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About Theo Mulder

As of 1 January 2017, Theo Mulder is interim rector of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS). "I am fascinated by science and the role innovative science plays in society."


Theo Mulder's Background

Theo Mulder was originally trained as an experimental neuropsychologist. From 1994-1999 he was professor of Rehabilitation Research at the Neurological Institute of the Radboud University in Nijmegen. In 1999 he went to the University of Groningen to become professor of Movement Sciences and director of the Center for Human Movement Studies (University Medical Center). He is the (co-)author of 160 articles and 2 books on topics related to the interaction between perception, cognition and action (H-index 46).

In 2006 he broadened his academic career and became the overarching director of the 16 institutes for scientific research of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He remained honorary professor in Groningen. The research domains of these KNAW institutes range among others from stem-cell research, brain research, fungal research, ecology to demography, labour history, cultural studies, contemporary history and history of science. After the two periods of 5 year this directorate ended in 2016.

Dangerous Thoughts in Science

In 2016 he had a sabbatical and started to work (further) on a book on Dangerous Thoughts in Science. Why was it that early brain research collided so hard with church and state? It is a book that connects the life sciences with the humanities. The main figure is the eighteenth-century neuroanatomist Franz Joseph Gall who had a conflict not only with the Austrian emperor Franz II but also with the French emperor Napoleon. The latter personally interfered to prevent the admission of Gall to the Institut de France. Napoleon disliked Gall very much and in 1816 at Sint Helena he still noted “J'ai beaucoup contribué à perdre Gall”.


Since January 1, 2017 he is appointed by the board of the Royal Academy as the (interim) director of NIAS recently located in the historical center of Amsterdam. NIAS is one of the above mentioned KNAW institutes.

Theo Mulder: "I am fascinated by science and the role innovative science plays in society, and being in the position to facilitate a community of smart people devoted to unrestricted research at the frontiers of knowledge fills me with pride."



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