Dickson Despommier

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Dickson D. Despommier
Dickson Despommier underground.JPG
Dickson Despommier (2014).
Born (1940-06-05) June 5, 1940 (age 82)
Alma materColumbia University, Medical Parasitology
University of Notre Dame, Microbiology
Known forVertical Farming
Medical Ecology of West Nile Virus
Urban Sustainable Agricultural Initiatives
Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology
The Trichinella Page
Medica Ecology
The Vertical Farm
This Week in Virology
AwardsAmerican Medical Student Association National Teaching Award 2003
Scientific career
InstitutionsColumbia University Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Department of Microbiology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
ThesisThe in vivo and in vitro analysis of acquired resistance to Trichinella spiralis infections in mice. (1967)
InfluencedRené Dubos, Miklos Muller, Vincent Racaniello

Dickson D. Despommier (June 5, 1940) is an emeritus professor of microbiology and Public Health at Columbia University.[1] From 1971 to 2009, he conducted research on intracellular parasitism and taught courses on parasitic diseases, medical ecology and ecology. Despommier has received media coverage for his ideas on vertical farming.[2][3]


Despommier has research interest in the ecotone, a transition area between two biomes, as a zone of high disease transmission and also in the spread of schistosomiasis, malaria, and a variety of helminths (ascaris, hookworm, trichuris) in agricultural areas. Despommier has studied the ecology of West Nile virus with a focus on related patterns of weather.[1][4]

Research and findings on Trichinella spiralis, the causative agent of trichinosis, have resulted in a large body of literature. Despommier is especially known for his research findings in this area which led to numerous advances in the understanding of the "muscle stage" of the organism, and how it maintains itself in the host for long periods of time in the Nurse cell/parasite complex (weeks to years in some cases).

He developed his concept of vertical farming over a 10-year period with graduate students in a medical ecology class beginning in 1999, with work continued by designer Chris Jacobs and Ontarian eco-architect Gordon Graff[5][6] from the University of Waterloo's School of Architecture.

Science outreach to the public[edit]

In June 2008 Despommier appeared on the "Colbert Report", where he described the concept of vertical farming to Stephen Colbert.[7][8]

He is a regular panel-member of the podcast This Week in Virology,[9] produced by his colleague Vincent Racaniello.


Despommier has authored or co-authored ten books:

  • Despommier, Dickson D. (1967). The in Vivo in Vitro Analysis of Acquired Resistance to Trichinella Spiralis Infections in Mice. University of Notre Dame, April.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; John W. Karapelou; ʻAbd al-Nāṣir ʻAlī Būnī (1995). Dawrat ḥayāt al-ṭaqīlīyāt. al-Hayʼah al-Qawmīyah lil-Baḥth al-ʻIlmī.
  • Despommier, Dickson D. (2001). West Nile Story. Apple Trees Productions. ISBN 978-0-9700027-1-6.
  • Despommier, Dickson (2010). The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-61139-2.[10]
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Karapelou, John W. (1987). Parasite Life Cycles. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 0-387-96486-X.
  • Katz, M.; Despommier, Dickson D.; Gwadz, Robert (1989). Parasitic Diseases 2nd ed. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4684-0470-8.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Hotez, Peter; Gwadz, Robert (1994). Parasitic Diseases, 3rd ed. Springer Sciences & Business Media. ISBN 0-387-94223-8.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Gwadz, Robert; Hotez, Peter; Knirsch, Charles (2000). Parasitic Diseases 4th ed. Apple Trees Productions, LLC. ISBN 097000270X.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Gwadz, Robert; Hotez, Peter; Knirsch, Charles (2006). Parasitic Diseases 5th ed. Apple Trees Productions, LLC. ISBN 0-9700027-7-7.
  • Despommier, Dickson D.; Griffin, Daniel; Gwadz, Robert; Hotez, Peter; Knirsch, Charles (2017). Parasitic Diseases (6th ed.). ISBN 978-0-9978400-0-1.
  • Despommier, Dickson D. (2013). People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-53526-7.

Chapters by Professor Despommier:


  1. ^ a b "Dickson Despommier's Profile". Eoearth.org. Archived from the original on August 26, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  2. ^ Venkataraman, Bina (July 15, 2008). "Country, the City Version: Farms in the Sky Gain New Interest". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Walsh, Bryan (December 11, 2008). "Vertical Farming". Time.
  4. ^ Despommier, Dickson D. (2001). West Nile Story. Apple Trees Productions. ISBN 978-0-9700027-1-6.
  5. ^ Whyte, Murray (July 27, 2008). "Is high rise farming in Toronto's future?". Toronto Star.
  6. ^ Alter, Lloyd (June 14, 2007). "Sky Farm Proposed for Downtown Toronto". TreeHugger.com.
  7. ^ Ferguson, DB (June 13, 2008). "Episode 4078". NoFactZone.net.
  8. ^ Despommier, Dickson; Colbert, Stephen (June 12, 2008). "Dickson Despommier". Colbert Report. Episode 4078.
  9. ^ Racaniello, Vincent. "TWIV this week in virology". Vincent Racaniello. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  10. ^ "Review of The Vertical Farm by Dickson Despommier". Kirkus Reviews. July 1, 2010.

External links[edit]