Berkeley astronomers call for colleague’s firing over sexual harassment

Geoff Marcy, from an announcement of his participation in a NASA press conference. (credit: NASA)

Last week, many members of the University of California, Berkeley astronomy department learned that one of its more famous members, exoplanet researcher Geoff Marcy, had been targeted by a university investigation that looked into multiple allegations of sexual harassment over a period of 10 years. Rather than learning the results of the investigation from the university, however, they found out that the charges had been sustained only when Buzzfeed obtained a copy of the university’s report.

Despite the fact that the allegations were sustained by the investigation, the university did not impose any obvious sanctions on Marcy but simply threatened possible future consequences. As a result, many of the faculty and fellows in the department are now calling on Marcy to resign.

Marcy is a leading figure in the discovery of exoplanets. Upon the first reports of their discovery, he shifted his research focus and was responsible for the majority of the earliest discoveries. He has since become a member of the team behind the Kepler telescope, which has pushed the number of exoplanets discovered into the thousands.

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