Dickson Despommier

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Dickson D. Despommier
Dickson Despommier in the New York City subway.
Born (1940-06-05) June 5, 1940 (age 75)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Citizenship American
Fields parasitology
Institutions Columbia University Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and Department of Microbiology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Alma mater

Columbia University, Medical Parasitology

University of Notre Dame, Microbiology
Thesis The in vivo and in vitro analysis of acquired resistance to Trichinella spiralis infections in mice. (1967)
Known for Vertical Farming
Medical Ecology of West Nile Virus
Urban Sustainable Agricultural Initiatives
Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology
The Trichinella Page
Medica Ecology
The Vertical Farm
Influenced Rene Dubos, Miklos Muller, Vincent Racaniello
Notable awards American Medical Student Association National Teaching Award 2003
Dickson Despommier at Pop!Tech 2008

Dickson D. Despommier (born June 5, 1940[1]) is an emeritus professor of microbiology and Public Health at Columbia University. From 1971-2009, he conducted research on intracellular parasitism and taught courses on Parasitic Diseases, Medical Ecology and Ecology. In recent years, Despommier has received considerable media coverage for his ideas on vertical farming.[2][3] 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 Ontarian eco-architects like Gordon Graff [4][5] from the University of Waterloo's School of Architecture.

Despommier is also co-host of three popular podcasts along with Vincent Racaniello, namely TWIV (This Week in Virology), TWIP (This Week in Parasitism) and Urban Agriculture.[6]


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][7]

Research and findings for various Trichinella spiralis topics have resulted in a large body of literature. Despommier is especially known for his research findings in this area which lead to numerous advances in our 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).[8]

Vertical Farming[edit]

Main article: Vertical Farming

Despommier is concerned about protecting food crops from severe weather events such as floods and droughts. He has explored the feasibility of raising crops indoors in multistory buildings within the urban landscape.[1]

In June, 2008 Despommier appeared on the Colbert Report, where he described the concept of vertical farming to Stephen Colbert.[9][10]

Concepts of Medical Ecology, a course taught by Despommier, are summarized in 18 presentations.[11]



Despommier has authored or co-authored seven books.[13]


Despommier is a photographer, winning several awards.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "Dickson Despommier's Profile". Eoearth.org. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  2. ^ Venkataraman, B. (July 15, 2008). Country, the City Version: Farms in the Sky Gain New Interest. New York Times.[dead link]
  3. ^ Walsh, B. (December 11, 2008). Vertical Farming. Time magazine.
  4. ^ Whyte, Murray (2008-07-27). "Is high rise farming in Toronto's future?". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  5. ^ "Sky Farm Proposed for Downtown Toronto". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  6. ^ "Urban Agriculture". http://www.urbanag.ws/. MicrobeTV. Retrieved 2 September 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ Despommier, Dickson (2011-09-01). West Nile Story (Second ed.). Apple Trees Productions, LLC. 
  8. ^ Trichinella spiralis research publications
    • Despommier, D. D.; W. C. Campbell; L. S. Blair (1977). "The in vivo and in vitro ananlysis of immunity to Trichinella spiralis in mice and rats". Parasitology 74 (01): 109–119. doi:10.1017/S0031182000047570. 
  9. ^ Ferguson, DB. "Episode 4078". http://www.nofactzone.net. DB Ferguson. Retrieved 24 August 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  10. ^ Dickson Despommier and Stephen Colbert (2008). Colbert Report Episode 4078. Retrieved 2014-08-23. (Speaker Icon.svg Page will play audio when loaded)
  11. ^ Dickson, Despommier. "Medical Ecology". http://www.medicalecology.org. Medical Ecology.org. Retrieved 24 August 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  12. ^ Dickson Despommier (2010). The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century. ISBN 978-0-312-61139-2. 
  13. ^ 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. (2001-01-01). West Nile Story. Apple Trees Productions. ISBN 9780970002716. 
    • Despommier, Dickson (2010-10-12). The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312611392. 
    • Despommier, Dickson D.; John W. Karapelou (2011-09-23). Parasite Life Cycles. Springer New York. ISBN 9781461283201. 
    • Katz, Michael; Dickson D. Despommier; Robert Gwadz (2012-02-09). Parasitic Diseases. Springer New York. ISBN 9781468403299. 
    • Despommier, Dickson (2013-07-16). People, Parasites, and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231161947. 
  14. ^ Photography Awards
    • "First place in photography", Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, Fall 2004 – “Portals"
    • "Highest award in show", Salmagundi Club, Fall 2006. – "Mocha Latte Water buffalo"

External links[edit]