I am an assistant professor in history and philosophy of science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. I grew up in the Netherlands, where did my undergraduate studies at University College Maastricht. I subsequently studied at the University of California in Berkeley, received an MSc degree from the London School of Economics and obtained a PhD from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Copenhagen, I held a post-doc in the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities at Utrecht University. I have been a visiting fellow at several other research institutes and universities, including the RSSS at Australian National University, Egenis at University of Exeter, and the KLI Institute. In September 2018, I was an Andrew W. Mellon Visiting Fellow at the Humanities institute of the New York Botanical Garden.
I specialize in history and philosophy of biology. In my research I combine philosophical analysis with historical case studies and pay close attention to scientific practice. I am currently carrying out the research project The Nature of Naming and the Naming of Nature (2017-2021), for which I received a VENI early career research grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). For this project I investigate how taxonomists manage – and sometimes fail – to reliably communicate knowledge about taxonomic groups (e.g. species or genera) in the face of uncertainty and disagreement about where and how the boundaries between those groups should be drawn. My goals include (1) mapping the development of the principles and practices of naming and reference in biological taxonomy since Linnaean times; (2) showing that the study of taxonomic nomenclature is rich in philosophical issues that can both contribute to and draw from the philosophy of reference; and (3) using the improved historical-philosophical understanding of taxonomic nomenclature to contribute to live issues in data-centric biodiversity systematics. I am also a co-PI for the research project Productive Ambiguity in Classification, together with philosophers, historians, taxonomists and bio-informaticians from Arizona State University.
Some of my other research interests are in scientific explanation, the history and philosophy of modern evolutionary theory (in particular modern synthesis historiography and its philosophical dimensions), and the evolution of cooperation, cognition, and morality.
I am an Associate Editor for Acta Biotheoretica and serve on the Editorial Board of Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences. I am also a Council Member of the International Society for the History Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology.