Geoffrey William Marcy (born September 29, 1954) is an Americanastronomer. He is one of the pioneers and leaders in the discovery and characterization of exoplanets. Marcy was Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley and an Adjunct Professor of Physics and Astronomy at San Francisco State University before stepping down in October 2015. His colleagues in the Berkeley Astronomy Department forced him to resign after allegations of sexual harassment were substantiated by a Berkeley investigation.
Marcy was a Professor of Astronomy and the Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair for SETI at the University of California, Berkeley from 1999 through 2015. In 2015, he resigned after being found in violation of UC Berkeley's sexual harassment policy. 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.
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. Two months later, Marcy and his team followed this confirmation with the announcement of the discovery of two additional planets around 47 Ursa Majoris and 70 Virginis. Other achievements include discovering the first multiple planet system around a star similar to our own (Upsilon Andromedae), 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), and the first Neptune-sized planets (Gliese 436b and 55 Cancri e). Marcy was a Co-Investigator of the NASA Kepler mission 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.
More recently, in May 2017, Marcy was involved in studies related to laser light emissions from stars, as a way of detecting technology-related signals from an alien civilization. The study included KIC 8462852, an oddly dimming star in which its unusual starlight 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 KIC 8462852 in the studies.
Sexual harassment scandal
In 2015, an investigation by the University of California, BerkeleyTitle IX office found that Geoffrey Marcy had violated the University's sexual harassment policy between 2001 and 2010. Four complaints were filed with the University's Title IX office, one of which Marcy denied as false. 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.
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.”
On October 12, 2015, the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department met and released a statement asserting that Marcy was "inadequately disciplined" by the University, and "we believe that Geoff Marcy cannot perform the functions of a faculty member." 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. 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".
On the same day, Marcy resigned as Principal Investigator of the Breakthrough Listen project. Two days later, on October 14, 2015, he indicated his intention to step down from his professorship at UC Berkeley.