Author & Emeritus Professor | Fort Lee, NJ
I was born in New Orleans in 1940, and grew up in California before moving to the New York area, where I now live and work. I have a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Notre Dame. For 27 years, I conducted laboratory-based biomedical research at Columbia University with NIH-sponsored support. I am now an emeritus professor at Columbia University and adjunct professor at Fordham University. I have always been interested in the environment and the damage we have caused by the simple act of encroachment. At present, I am engaged in a project whose mission is to produce significant amounts of food crops in tall buildings situated in densely populated urban centers (see: www.verticalfarm.com and The Vertical Farm: feeding the world in the 21st century, hardcover, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, New York; soft cover, Picadore Press, October, 2011).
This initiative has grown in acceptance over the last few years to the point of stimulating planners and developers around the world to incorporate them into their vision for the future city. To date, there are vertical farms up and running in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Seattle, and Chicago, with many more in the planning stage (e.g., Jackson, Wyoming and Linkoping, Sweden). It is my hope that vertical farming will become commonplace throughout the built environment on a global scale.
I have been fortunate to have been awarded numerous teaching honors (eight Best Teacher of the Year awards at Columbia University), and the national American Medical Student Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence in 2003. I authored four books, written over 70 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and numerous published review articles on a wide variety of subjects. I have lectured on the subject of vertical farming at many universities (e.g., MIT, Harvard, NYU, Cornell, Rutgers, Brigham Young University, The Singularity University), to city governments (Chicago; New York; Seattle; Newark, New Jersey; Los Angeles; Seoul, Korea; Amman, Jordan; Beijing, China; Bangalore and Combatore, India; Perugia, Italy) and federal government agencies, including the United Nations, IMF, USDA and USAID. I have presented at TED and TEDx (six different TEDx), PopTech, Ars Eletronica, IdeaCity, Monterey Design Conference, Seoul Digital Forum, Short Course in Indoor Agriculture, University of Arizona, 21 Minutes of Knowledge, Urban Agricultural Forum, and the Indian Institute for Architecture annual meeting. I live with my wife, Marlene, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.