Geoffrey Marcy

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Geoffrey Marcy
Marcy in 2007
Geoffrey William Marcy

(1954-09-29) September 29, 1954 (age 69)
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles (B.A.)
University of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D.)
Known forExoplanet discoveries
AwardsHenry Draper Medal (2001)
Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize (2002)
Shaw Prize (2005)
Scientific career
FieldsAstronomy, astrophysics
InstitutionsCarnegie Institution for Science
San Francisco State University
University of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisorsGeorge H. Herbig[1] and Steven S. Vogt[2]

Geoffrey William Marcy (born September 29, 1954) is an American astronomer. He was an early influence in the field of exoplanet detection, discovery, and characterization. Marcy was a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and an adjunct professor of physics and astronomy at San Francisco State University. Marcy and his research teams discovered 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] His collaborators have included R. Paul Butler, Debra Fischer and Steven S. Vogt, Jason Wright, Andrew Howard, Katie Peek, John Johnson, Erik Petigura, Lauren Weiss, Lea Hirsch and the Kepler Science Team.[3][8][7] Following an investigation for sexual harassment in 2015, Marcy resigned his position at the University of California, Berkeley.[9][10]

Early life and education[edit]

Marcy graduated from Granada Hills High School in Granada Hills, California, in 1972.[1] 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.[1] 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[3][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 announced the discovery of two additional planets around 47 Ursae 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 five 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 four 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 one to two times the size of Earth and receive incident stellar light within a factor of four of the light the Earth receives from the Sun, making them warm planets, many of which accommodate liquid water.[22]

Later career[edit]

In May 2017, Marcy co-authored studies related to laser light emissions from stars, as a way of detecting technology-related signals from an alien civilization. The study included Tabby's Star (KIC 8462852), an oddly dimming star whose unusual light fluctuations may be the result of interference by an artificial megastructure, such as a Dyson swarm, made by such a civilization. No evidence was found for technology-related signals from Tabby's Star in the studies.[23][24]

In 2021, Marcy's membership in the National Academy of Sciences was rescinded.[25]

Sexual harassment[edit]

A six-month investigation by the University of California, Berkeley, Title IX office concluded in 2015 with the finding that Geoffrey Marcy had violated the university's sexual harassment policy[26] between 2001 and 2010.[27][28][29] Four complaints were filed with the university's Title IX office, one of which Marcy denied.[30] As a consequence, the university "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".[31]

At least three additional allegations had been 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.[32] A former graduate student of Marcy, now faculty member at Harvard, called Marcy's harassing behavior an "open secret" in the astronomy community.[28] Marcy's alleged actions included unwanted massages, kisses, and groping.[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."[33]

On October 12, 2015, the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department met and released a statement asserting that Marcy was "inadequately disciplined"[31] by the university, and "we believe that Geoff Marcy cannot perform the functions of a faculty member."[34][35] 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.[36]

On the same day, Marcy resigned as principal investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project.[37] Two days later, on October 14, 2015, he indicated his intention to step down from his professorship at UC Berkeley.[9][10] Marcy retained the title of emeritus despite his resignation.[38]

In 2023, a paper co-authored by Marcy with the American Astronomical Society drew criticism from graduate students who had collected data for the project but were not offered co-authorship. As harassment, including sexual harassment, is not classified as research misconduct by the group, Marcy's name was not disincluded from the paper.[39] One of Marcy's junior collaborators in Sweden published an essay stating that she is subjected to harassment, bullying, and discrimination from the astronomy community for her decision to work with Marcy.[40]


Marcy lives with his wife, Susan Kegley,[41] in California.[3]

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,[42][43] The New York Times,[3][44] Astronomy magazine[45] and as a participant in various PBS Nova episodes: "Hunt for Alien Worlds" (1997), "Finding Life Beyond Earth" (2012), "Alien Planets Revealed" (2014);[46] 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),[47] The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour (January 18, 1996), The David Letterman Show (April 12, 2001), a Planetary Radio interview (2007)[48] and a National Academy of Sciences interview (2014).[49]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Autobiography of Geoffrey Marcy". The Shaw Prize. Shaw Prize Foundation. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  2. ^ Tim Stephens (September 4, 2007). "Major gift supports crucial piece of Automated Planet Finder". University of California, Santa Cruz. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Overbye, Dennis (May 12, 2013). "Finder of New Worlds". The New York Times. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  4. ^ Marcy, G.W. (2014). "Technology Enabling the First 100 Exoplanets". AAS Meeting Abstracts. 223: 91.03. Bibcode:2014AAS...223.9103M.
  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. April 10, 2015. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  8. ^ Lemonick, Michael (December 16, 2009). "Super-Earth: Astronomers Find a Watery New Planet". Time. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009. 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 Overbye, Dennis (October 14, 2015). "Geoffrey Marcy to Resign From Berkeley Astronomy Department". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "UCLA Spotlight". UCLA Marketing and Communications. Archived from the original on August 20, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  12. ^ "Alumni Achievement Award". University of California Santa Cruz Alumni. Regents of the University of California. Archived from the original on August 31, 2015. 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. Archived from the original on August 27, 2015. 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. J. 481 (926): 926–935. Bibcode:1997ApJ...481..926M. doi:10.1086/304088.
  18. ^ Butler, Paul; Marcy, Geoffrey (1996). "A Planet Orbiting 47 Uma". Astrophysical Journal. 464 (2): L153. Bibcode:1996ApJ...464L.153B. doi:10.1086/310102.
  19. ^ Marcy, Geoffrey; Butler, Paul (1996). "A Planetary Companion to 70 Virginis". Astrophysical Journal Letters. 464 (2): L147. Bibcode:1996ApJ...464L.147M. doi:10.1086/310096. S2CID 9528214.
  20. ^ Marcy, G.W.; Butler, R.P.; Fischer, D. A. (2002). "A Planet at 5 AU around 55 Cancri". Astrophysical Journal. 581 (1375): 1375–1388. arXiv:astro-ph/0207294. Bibcode:2002ApJ...581.1375M. doi:10.1086/344298. S2CID 16170184.
  21. ^ Britt, Robert Roy (August 31, 2004). "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 Sciences. 110 (19273): 19273–19278. arXiv:1311.6806. Bibcode:2013PNAS..11019273P. doi:10.1073/pnas.1319909110. PMC 3845182. PMID 24191033.
  23. ^ Koren, Marina (April 17, 2017). "Searching the Skies for Alien Laser Beams - A new study scanned 5,600 stars for tiny emissions of light, which may be the best way for an extraterrestrial civilization to signal its existence". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  24. ^ Tellis, Nathaniel K.; Marcy, Geoffrey W. (May 12, 2017). "A Search for Laser Emission with Megawatt Thresholds from 5600 FGKM Stars". The Astronomical Journal. 153 (6): 251. arXiv:1704.02535. Bibcode:2017AJ....153..251T. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/aa6d12. S2CID 119088358.
  25. ^ "Geoffrey W. Marcy". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  26. ^ "UC Berkeley Sexual Harassment Policy". University of California. June 17, 2015. Archived from the original on October 13, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  27. ^ Overbye, Dennis (October 10, 2015). "Geoffrey Marcy, Astronomer at Berkeley, Apologizes for Behavior". The New York Times. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  28. ^ a b c Andersen, Ross (October 10, 2015). "The Consequences of Sexual Harassment in Astronomy". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  29. ^ Mervis, Jeffrey (October 9, 2015). "Berkeley astronomer found guilty of sexual harassment". Science Insider. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  30. ^ Kleinfeld, Zoe, Abbott, Katy (October 14, 2015). "Campus astronomer Geoffrey Marcy to resign amid sexual harassment allegations". The Daily Californian. Retrieved October 28, 2015.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  31. ^ a b Leff, Lisa (October 12, 2015). "UC Berkeley says astronomer was appropriately disciplined". AP News. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  32. ^ Ghorayshi, Azeen (October 23, 2015). "Famous Astronomer Accused Of Sexual Harassment At His Previous Job, Too". BuzzFeed. Retrieved November 5, 2015.
  33. ^ Marcy, Geoff (October 7, 2015). "An Open Letter to the Astronomy Community" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  34. ^ Overbye, Dennis (October 13, 2015). "Geoffrey Marcy's Berkeley Astronomy Colleagues Call for His Dismissal". The New York Times.
  35. ^ "Letter from UC Berkeley Astronomy faculty to Geoff Marcy" (PDF). October 12, 2015.
  36. ^ Kingkade, Tyler (May 19, 2015). "A Number Of Colleges Are Under Scrutiny For Sexual Harassment, But You Wouldn't Know It". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 27, 2015.
  37. ^ "Breakthrough Initiatives".
  38. ^ Ghorayshi, Azeen (January 22, 2016). "Alleged Harasser Gets Honorific Title At UC Berkeley". Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  39. ^ "After outcry, disgraced sexual harasser removed from astronomy manuscript". Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  40. ^ "Sommarkrönika av Beatriz Villarroel: cancelkultur och trakasserier inom astronomin - fallet Geoff Marcy". Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  41. ^ "Susan Kegley, PhD". Pesticide Research Institute. May 9, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
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  44. ^ Noble Wilford, John (February 9, 1997). "In a Golden Age of Discovery, Faraway Worlds Beckon". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  45. ^ Marcy, Geoff; Butler, Paul (March 2000). "Hunting Planets Beyond". Astronomy. 28 (3): 42. Bibcode:2000Ast....28...42M. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  46. ^ "NOVA - Alien Planets Revealed". January 8, 2014. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  47. ^ Dorminey, Bruce (2002). Distant Wanderers: The Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System. New York: Copernicus Books. pp. 52. ISBN 978-0-387-95074-7.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ "InterViews". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  50. ^ Goldsmith, Donald (1997). Worlds Unnumbered: The Search for ExtraSolar Planets. Sausalito, CA: University Science Books. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-935702-97-2.
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