Nordgren graduated as a B.Sc. from Uppsala University in 1971 and received his Ph.D. in physics in 1977. In 1979 he was made docent and since 1988, he is a professor of soft X-ray physics at Uppsala. Since July 1, 2008, Nordgren is vice rector for the area of science and engineering at Uppsala university.
Nordgren is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 1996, and was a member of the Nobel Committee for Physics from 2001 to 2009, and the Committee's chairman in 2008 and 2009. He is also a member of the Royal Society of Sciences and Letters in Uppsala since 1981 and of the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala since 2005.
- Nordgren, Joseph (1977): X-ray emission spectra of free molecules. Abstracts of Uppsala dissertations from the Faculty of Science, 0345-0058 ; 418, ISBN 91-554-0623-8
- Press announcement from Uppsala University, April 1, 2008: Tre nya vicerektorer vid Uppsala universitet[permanent dead link] (in Swedish)
- Joseph Nordgren's web page Archived 2011-10-09 at the Wayback Machine., accessed on August 4, 2009