a short biography

I am currently a research fellow (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. Earlier, I have taught at different universities in Italy, Germany, the United States, and Canada. For details, including a list of courses I have taught since 1996, see my CV.

My work focuses on the Taoist views of the human being and the Taoist traditions of self-cultivation. My main current project, supported by a grant of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), is a study of the thought of the Taoist master Liu Yiming 劉一明 (1734-1821) and his views of human nature and existence (xing and ming 性命).

Earlier, I have been the author of Great Clarity: Daoism and Alchemy in Early Medieval China (Stanford University Press, 2006), the editor of The Encyclopedia of Taoism (Routledge, 2008), and I have written several articles on Taoism (in the far away past, also on other subjects). For a list of my publications, see my CV.

In addition, I have published translations of texts on Neidan (Taoist Internal Alchemy) addressed to a wider audience. These translations, published by Golden Elixir Press — my leisure pursuit — include some of the main Neidan texts, such as the Cantong qi (Seal of the Unity of the Three); the Wuzhen pian (Awakening to Reality); the Ruyao jing (Mirror for Compounding the Medicine); the Yinfu jing (Scripture of the Hidden Accordance); and Cultivating the Tao, a work by Liu Yiming.

I am also co-operating with the Ming Shan 明山 Center in Bullet, Switzerland, one of the few places which understands that removing the boundaries between “scholars” and “practitioners” is beneficial to all. Together with other scholars (Adeline Herrou, Catherine Despeux, Vincent Goossaert, and others), I have been teaching there courses on Taoism and Neidan.

In the past ten years or so, my academic work has been based at the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities in Erlangen, Germany. At the Consortium — directed by Prof. Michael Lackner, and soon co-directed by Pror. Andrea Bréard — I have contributed lectures and publications to the project "Fate, Freedom and Prognostication". I am also acting there as "publication coordinator" of the book series Prognostication in History, published by Brill in Leiden.

research interests

● Taoist thought and religion
● Taoist views of the human being
● Taoist alchemy and other traditions of self-cultivation
● Taoism and divination


● Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Research Fellow)
● International Consortium for Research in the Humanities, Erlangen (Publication Coordinator)