Torrey Plant Physiological Ecology Laboratory

est. 1997


Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is a division of Columbia University dedicated to research in the Earth Sciences. The estate on which Lamont-Doherty is located has an interesting history. More than a hundred years ago, John Torrey, the famous botanist, discovered a wealth of plant life on top of a rock cliff above Sneden’s Landing on the west shore of the Hudson River. Torrey admired the beauty of the spot and splendid view of the Hudson. He acquired a few acres upon which he built himself a summer home near the edge of the cliffs. Over the years, he accumulated a herbarium of many thousands of botanical specimens which he presented Columbia University in 1860. In 1928 Thomas W. Lamont, the financier, acquired Torrey Cliff and adjacent pieces of land and built up an estate of more than one hundred acres. In 1948, after the death of Thomas Lamont, his widow gave the estate to Columbia University and it eventually became the home of the Observatory. In 1997, Kevin Griffin, plant physiological ecologists was hired and a new laboratory was built to support research in the plant sciences, recognizing the important role terrestrial plants in the earth system sciences. Because of the rich history of botanical research on the site of the modern day Earth Observatory, we choose to name the lab in honor of John Torrey, America’s first Botanist.