Geoffrey Marcy

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Geoffrey Marcy
Geoffrey Marcy.jpg
Marcy in 2007
Born Geoffrey William Marcy
(1954-09-29) September 29, 1954 (age 61)
St. Clair Shores, Michigan, U.S.[1]
Nationality American
Fields Astronomy, Astrophysics
Institutions Carnegie Institution for Science
San Francisco State University
University of California, Berkeley
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles (B.A.)
University of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D.)
Doctoral advisors George H. Herbig[2] and Steven S. Vogt[3]
Known for Extrasolar planet discoveries
Notable awards Henry Draper Medal (2001)
Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize (2002)
Shaw Prize (2005)

Geoffrey William Marcy (born September 29, 1954) is an American astronomer. He is one of the pioneers and leaders in the discovery and characterization of planets around other stars than the Sun. Marcy and his research teams are recognized for discovering many extrasolar planets, including 70 out of the first 100 known exoplanets[4] and also the first planetary system around a Sun-like star, Upsilon Andromedae.[5][6] Marcy was a co-Investigator on the NASA Kepler mission[7] that discovered over 4000 exoplanets. Early collaborators include R. Paul Butler, Debra Fischer and Steven S. Vogt.[1][8] Later collaborators include Jason Wright, Andrew Howard, Katie Peek, John Johnson, Erik Petigura, Lauren Weiss, Lea Hirsch and the Kepler Science Team.[7]

He was Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley and an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the San Francisco State University before stepping down in October 2015, after having been found in violation of UC Berkeley policies against sexual harassment.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Marcy graduated from Granada Hills High School in Granada Hills, California, in 1972.[10] He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude with a double major in physics and astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976.[11] He then completed a doctorate in astronomy in 1982 at the University of California, Santa Cruz,[12] with much of his work done at Lick Observatory.

Academic career[edit]

Marcy has held teaching and research positions, first at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (then the Mt. Wilson and Las Campanas Observatories) as a Carnegie Fellow from 1982 to 1984.[10] He then worked as an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy from 1984 to 1996 and then as a Distinguished University Professor from 1997 to 1999 at the San Francisco State University.[13]

Marcy was a Professor of Astronomy and the Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair for SETI[1][14] at the University of California, Berkeley from 1999 through 2015. From 2000 to 2012, he was the Director of UC Berkeley's Center for Integrative Planetary Science. Marcy was also one of the project leaders of the Breakthrough Initiatives that will search for intelligent life in the universe, using large radio and optical telescopes.[15][16]

Marcy and his team confirmed Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz's discovery of the first extrasolar planet orbiting a Sun-like star—51 Pegasi b.[17] Two months later, Marcy and his team followed this confirmation with the announcement of the discovery of two additional planets around 47 Ursa Majoris[18] and 70 Virginis.[19] Other achievements include discovering the first multiple planet system around a star similar to our own (Upsilon Andromedae),[5][6] the first transiting planet around another star, simultaneously with David Charbonneau and Timothy Brown (HD209458b), the first extrasolar planet orbiting beyond 5 AU (55 Cancri d),[20] and the first Neptune-sized planets (Gliese 436b and 55 Cancri e).[21] Marcy was a Co-Investigator of the NASA Kepler mission[7] that discovered over 4000 exoplanets, most being smaller than 4 times the size of Earth. His team, led by Erik Petigura and Andrew Howard, showed that approximately 20% of Sun-like stars have a planet of 1–2 times the size of Earth and receive incident stellar light within a factor of 4 of the light the Earth receives from the Sun, making them warm planets, many of which accommodate liquid water.[22]

Sexual harassment scandal[edit]

In 2015, an investigation by the University of California, Berkeley Title IX office found that Geoffrey Marcy had violated the University's sexual harassment policy[23] between 2001 and 2010.[24][25][26] Berkeley Astronomy Professor Eugene Chiang put two women in touch with the university's Title IX department, eventually leading to four complaints being filed, one of which Professor Marcy denied as false.[27] At least three additional allegations were made against Marcy as early as 1995 while he was at San Francisco State University, as corroborated by Penny Nixon, then SFSU's sexual harassment officer.[28]

On October 7, 2015, Geoff Marcy posted an "Open Letter to the Astronomy Community" stating “While I do not agree with each complaint that was made, it is clear that my behavior was unwelcomed by some women. I take full responsibility and hold myself completely accountable for my actions and the impact they had. For that and to the women affected, I sincerely apologize.” [29]

On October 12, 2015, the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department met and released a statement asserting that Marcy was "inadequately disciplined" [30] by the University, and "we believe that Geoff Marcy cannot perform the functions of a faculty member."[31][32] Berkeley had recently been found on a list produced by the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, revealing that they were under review for potentially mishandling previous sexual violence cases.[33] In a follow-up statement, the university claimed they had "imposed real consequences on Professor Geoff Marcy by establishing a zero tolerance policy regarding future behavior and by stripping him of the procedural protections that all other faculty members enjoy".[30]

On the same day, Marcy resigned as Principal Investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project.[34] Two days later, on October 14, 2015, he indicated his intention to step down from his professorship at UC Berkeley.[9][35]


Marcy lives with his wife, Susan Kegley,[36] in California.[1]

In the media[edit]

Earlier, and as a pioneer in the study of extrasolar planets, Marcy has been featured prominently in the media, including Time magazine,[37][38] The New York Times,[39][1] Astronomy magazine[40] and as a participant in various PBS Nova episodes: "Hunt for Alien Worlds" (1997), "Finding Life Beyond Earth" (2012), "Alien Planets Revealed" (2014);[41] a BBC Horizon episode: "The Planet Hunters" (1996) and History Channel programs: "The Universe" (2007). Marcy was also featured on ABC News Nightline (October 20, 1995),[42] The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour (January 18, 1996), The David Letterman Show (April 12, 2001), a Planetary Radio interview (2007)[43] and a National Academy of Sciences interview (2014).[44]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Overbye, Dennis (May 12, 2013). "Finder of New Worlds". New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Autobiography of Geoffrey Marcy". The Shaw Prize. Shaw Prize Foundation. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ Tim Stephens (September 4, 2007). "Major gift supports crucial piece of Automated Planet Finder". University of California, Santa Cruz. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  4. ^ Marcy, G.W. (2014). "Technology Enabling the First 100 Exoplanets". American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts 223 (#91.03). 
  5. ^ a b "A Family of Giants: First System of Multiple Planets Found around a Sun-like Star". NASA Science News. NASA. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "SFSU Public Affairs Press Release: First system of multiple planets found around a Sun-like star". San Francisco State University. Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c "Kepler Team". Kepler: A Search For Habitable Planets. Ames Research Center. Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  8. ^ Lemonick, Michael (December 16, 2009). "Super-Earth: Astronomers Find a Watery New Planet". Time. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b Nanette Asimov (October 14, 2015). "Embattled astronomer resigns from UC Berkeley post amid sex harassment scandal". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  10. ^ a b "Autobiography of Geoffrey Marcy". The Shaw Prize. Shaw Prize Foundation. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ "UCLA Spotlight". UCLA Marketing and Communications. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Alumni Achievement Award". University of California Santa Cruz Alumni. Regents of the University of California. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Multiple planets discovered around Upsilon Andromeda". Harvard-Smithsonain Center for Astrophysics. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  14. ^ Dvorsky, George (June 8, 2012). "Meet SETI’s new boss: Geoff Marcy, the planet hunter". Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Leaders". Breakthrough Initiatives. Breakthrough Prize Foundation. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking Announce $100 Million Breakthrough Initiative to Dramatically Accelerate Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe". Breakthrough Initiatives. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  17. ^ Marcy, G.W. Butler, R.P., Williams, E., (1997). "The Planet around 51 Pegasi". Astrophys. Journal 481 (926). 
  18. ^ Butler, Paul, Marcy, Geoffrey (1996). "A Planet Orbiting 47 Uma". Astrophysical Journal 464: L153. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  19. ^ Marcy, Geoffrey, Butler, Paul (1996). "A Planetary Companion to 70 Virginis". Astrophysical Journal Letters 464: L147. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  20. ^ Marcy, G.W., Butler, R.P., Fischer, D. A. (2002). "A Planet at 5 AU around 55 Cancri". Astrophysical Journal 581 (1375). 
  21. ^ Britt, Robert Roy. "Two Neptune-Mass Planets Found, Earth-Size Worlds Next". Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  22. ^ Petigura, E.A., Howard, A.W., Marcy, G.W. (2013). "Prevalence of Earth-size planets Orbiting Sun-like stars". Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 110 (19273). 
  23. ^ University of California (June 17, 2015). "UC Berkeley Sexual Harassment Policy". Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  24. ^ Overbye, Dennis (October 10, 2015). "Geoffrey Marcy, Astronomer at Berkeley, Apologizes for Behavior". New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2015. 
  25. ^ Andersen, Ross (October 10, 2015). "The Consequences of Sexual Harassment in Astronomy". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  26. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey (October 9, 2015). "Berkeley astronomer found guilty of sexual harassment". Science Insider. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  27. ^ Kleinfeld, Zoe, Abbott, Katy (October 14, 2015). "Campus astronomer Geoffrey Marcy to resign amid sexual harassment allegations". The Daily Californian. Retrieved October 28, 2015. 
  28. ^ Ghorayshi, Azeen (October 23, 2015). "Famous Astronomer Accused Of Sexual Harassment At His Previous Job, Too". Buzzfeed. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  29. ^ Marcy, Geoff (October 7, 2015). "An Open Letter to the Astronomy Community" (PDF). Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  30. ^ a b Leff, Lisa (October 12, 2015). "UC Berkeley says astronomer was appropriately disciplined". AP News. Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Letter from UC Berkeley Astronomy faculty to Geoff Marcy" (PDF). October 12, 2015. 
  32. ^ Overbye, Dennis (October 13, 2015). "Geoffrey Marcy’s Berkeley Astronomy Colleagues Call for His Dismissal". New York Times. 
  33. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (May 19, 2015). "A Number Of Colleges Are Under Scrutiny For Sexual Harassment, But You Wouldn't Know It". Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ Overbye, Dennis (October 14, 2015). "Geoffrey Marcy to Resign From Berkeley Astronomy Department". New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Susan Kegley, PhD". Pesticide Research Institute. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  37. ^ Lemonick, Michael D. (February 5, 1996). "Searching for Other Worlds". (Time Magazine). Retrieved August 18, 2015. 
  38. ^ Dorminey, Bruce (2002). Distant Wanderers: The Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System. New York: Copernicus Books. p. 51. ISBN 0-387-95074-5. 
  39. ^ Noble Wilford, John (February 9, 1997). "In a Golden Age of Discovery, Faraway Worlds Beckon". New York Times (New York Times). Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  40. ^ Marcy, Geoff; Butler, Paul (March 2000). "Hunting Planets Beyond". Astronomy (magazine). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  41. ^ "NOVA - Alien Planets Revealed". Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  42. ^ Dorminey, Bruce (2002). Distant Wanderers: The Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System. New York: Copernicus Books. p. 52. ISBN 0-387-95074-5. 
  43. ^ Marcy, Geoff (November 26, 2007). "Planetary Radio 5th Anniversary Show: Astronomer Geoff Marcy on Discovery of Fifth Planet in Star System (28:52)". Planetary Society. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  44. ^ "InterViews". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved August 17, 2015. 
  45. ^ Goldsmith, Donald (1997). Worlds Unnumbered: The Search for ExtraSolar Planets. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books. p. 1. ISBN 0-935702-97-0. 
  46. ^ "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  47. ^ "Member Directory". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  48. ^ "2005 Announcement and Citation". The Shaw Prize. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  49. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients from 1997 to present". University of Delaware. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 
  50. ^ "Sagan Prize Recipients". 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  51. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 13, 2011. 
  52. ^ "PNAS Announces Six 2013 Cozzareli Prize Recipients". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  53. ^ "Miller Professors". Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved August 29, 2015. 

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