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Galactic Gift

SFSU astronomer Geoffrey Marcy's resume lists some impressive research accomplishments: developed first method of precise Doppler measurements, discovered 70 of the first 100 extra-solar planets known, helped discover first Neptune-sized planets known, and was the first to discover both a system of planets around a sun-like star and a transiting planet around another star. Those are just a few.

The adjunct professor has added one more major achievement to the list: winning the Shaw Prize in Astronomy. Administered by the Hong Kong-based Shaw Prize Foundation, the award is sometimes referred to as "the Nobel of the East."

Marcy shares the $1 million prize with Michel Mayor, a colleague in Switzerland. The two astronomers were selected for their breakthroughs in "finding and characterizing the orbits and masses of the first planets around other stars, thereby revolutionizing our understanding of the processes that form planets and planetary systems."

Marcy is also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley where he directs the Center for Integrative Planetary Science. He joined the SFSU faculty in 1983. Marcy is quick to point out that he could not have captured the Shaw Prize without his team of planet hunters, which includes SFSU alumni Assistant Professor Debra Fischer and Paul Butler.

Marcy plans to donate $50,000 of his winnings to the SFSU Physics and Astronomy Department. The gift will create a scholarship endowment to support student research.

-- Adrianne Bee

For more about SFSU planet hunters: http://tauceti.sfsu.edu/n2k/

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