Current Faculty

Photo of Geoff Marcy

Geoff Marcy

Professor of Astronomy; Alberts Chair, SETI


  • 605E Campbell Hall


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Specialty Areas

The physics of planets around other stars; The physics of stars; Astrobiology

Research Interests

Marcy's group discovers and measures the properties of planets around other stars.  They use both precise Doppler measurements and the dimming of stars as planets cross in front of them. They measure the masses, densities, and orbits of planets as small as Earth, and determine how common they are in the Milky Way Galaxy. Marcy's group is also building a fiber-fed, stable spectrometer for the Keck Observatory, "SHREK", at the Space Science Lab.  Marcy's group also searches for intelligent life in the universe using optical, infrared, and radio telescopes.


Geoff Marcy is one of the pioneers and leaders in the discovery and characterization of planets around other stars.   Professor Marcy’s group made many key discoveries including the first multiple-planet system, the first Saturn-mass planet, the first Neptune-mass planet, and the first transiting planet (with Tim Brown and Dave Charbonneau).  Professor Marcy’s research now focuses on Earth-size planets around other stars. He was a co-investigator of Kepler, the NASA space-born telescope dedicated to identifying Earth-like planets and to determining how many of these planets fall in the habitable zone. Professor Marcy now serves as the Alberts Chair in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Professor Marcy is an elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences (2002) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2010). He is the recipient of many awards including the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization (2009), the Shaw Prize (2005, shared with Michel Mayor), the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (2003) and the Beatrice Tinsley prize from the American Astronomical Society (2002).


Breakthrough Listen Initiative

Breakthrough Listen Initiative

The Breakthrough Listen Initiative, funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, will be the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth.  The project will use the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia and the Parkes Telescope in Australia to search for radio transmissions from advanced civilizations.  In addition, the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory will be used to search for optical laser transmissions from other technological civilizations.

More about Breakthrough Listen Initiative

Automated Planet Finder

The solar spectrum viewed through the APF and Levy Spectrometer.

The Automated Planet Finder (APF) is a robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope stationed at Lick Observatory designed to assist with the search for extrasolar planets. The APF operates by targeting preprogrammed stars and observing them nightly over the course of several months in efforts to detect stellar motion and locate habitable planets.

More about Automated Planet Finder

Berkeley Nexus for Exoplanet System Science

At Berkeley we are bridging three techniques for discovering and characterizing extrasolar planets:  Transit, Doppler, and Direct Imaging.

NExSS is a cross-divisional initiative from NASA to create a research coordination network (RCN) with an emphasis on studying extrasolar planets and the potential for habitability.  An RCN is a virtual structure to support groups of investigators to communication and coordinate research and educational activity.  At Berkeley our contributions are the observations of extrasolar planets via direct imaging, the transit technique, and Doppler spectroscopy, plus the theoretical study of planet formation and subsequent evolution.

More about Berkeley Nexus for Exoplanet System Science