I was born in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 1946. After the ‘Stedelijk Gymnasium’ (City College) in Haarlem, I studied history at the university of Leiden. I completed my MA in 1970, with a major in socio-economic history and a minor in history of science. I earned my Ph.D. in 1974 with a thesis on efforts at renewal in Dutch social-democracy during the first decade following upon the First World War.
From 1975 to 1982 I served the Museum Boerhaave in Leiden as a curator.
In 1982 I was appointed full professor in history of science at the University of Twente.
Since December 2006 I serve as an endowed professor at the Department of Humanities of the University of Utrecht.
From 1 July 2014 onward I am member 'ex officio' of the Executive Committee of the History of Science Society (HSS). I am further effective member no. 376 of the International Academy of the History of Science.
I have taken part every so often in activities of URKEW and its predecessor, GEHN (both designed and directed by Prof. Patrick O’Brien).
I enjoyed three senior fellowships at institutes for advanced study - NIAS in Wassenaar, the Wilson Center in Washington DC, and the Dibner Institute (situated at the time in Cambridge, Massachussetts).