Dickson Despommier

Dickson Despommier

Dickson Despommier

Professor Emeritus
Environmental Health Sciences


Environmental Health Sciences Dept. 722 W 168 St
New York NY 10032
Website address: Email:


Dr. Dickson Despommier, PhD, is a microbiologist, an ecologist, and emeritus professor of Public and Environmental Health at the Columbia University. For 27 years he conducted research on cellular and molecular parasitism and held lectures and courses on Parasitic Disease, Medical Ecology and Ecology. From one of these courses, in 1999, he founded the root for this idea of raising crops in tall buildings; vertical farming. In 2010, he published his widely received book: "The Vertical Farm: feeding the world in the 21st Century", St. Martin's Press, New York. Two years ago vertical farms were regarded as a utopia, but one year ago the first prototypes were built. Among those prototypes are a three-story VF Suwon, South Korea, over 50 (plant factories that qualify as vertical farms) in Japan, a commercial vertical farm in Singapore that opened in 2012, and another in Chicago that was built in an old industrial building. Vertical farms have many advantages: food is organically farmed, urban space is saved, it is possible to farm all year round and in any place, and use of agrochemicals is eliminated. His idea was regarded as visionary several years ago, but today it has become a beacon for all countries where food imports are high.


PhD, 1967, University of Notre Dame
MS, 1964, Columbia University
BS, 1962, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Editorial Boards

Senior Editor, Topley and Wilson's Microbiology textbook, 2005 edition

Columbia Affiliations

member, Urban Design Laboratory (Earth Institute)

Academic Appointments

Professor Emeritus, Microbiology

Other Affiliations

American Society for Tropical Medicine
American Society for Parasitology
American Association for the Advancemment of Science

Honors & Awards

2003 National Teacher of the Year, American Medical Student Association
Distinguished Teacher Award, Columbia University School of Medicine, 2007

Select Urban Health Activities

New York: Dr. Despommier is a member of the New York City Department of Health's Food Safety Committee.
The Vertical Farm Project: Growing food in high rise buildings in urban centers
Medical Ecology: Tracking environmental disturbance and human health risks

Select Global Activities

4th Year Medicine in the Tropics Elective: Dr. Despommier runs the medical elective in the tropics for the fourth year medical students. Students travel to various countries and carry out clinical work under the supervision of a resident physician in that country.

Select Publications

senior editor; Chapter on Trichinella infection Topley and Wislon's Microbial Infections and Parasitology Arnold Pub.s, London UK 2006

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