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Explore Alliance Ambassadors - Dr. Franck Marchis

Explore Alliance Ambassador - Dr. Franck Marchis
California USA
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Dr. Franck Marchis is a veteran planetary astronomer, leading the exoplanet division at the prestigious Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute. Simultaneously, he's at the helm as the Chief Scientific Officer and Founder of Unistellar. His journey with the Institute began in June 2011, transitioning from a shared role between the Institute and the astronomy department at the University of California, Berkeley. Marchis made his move to the United States in October 2000, right after securing his Ph.D. from the University of Toulouse in France. His Ph.D. pursuits took him on a globetrotting adventure, driven by research and a deep love for exploration.

Across nearly two decades, Dr. Marchis has wholeheartedly immersed himself in unraveling the secrets of our solar system, particularly delving into the hunt for asteroids with moons. This passionate exploration has primarily involved ground-based telescopes enhanced with adaptive optics (AO). More recently, he's actively contributed to shaping the new generation of AOs for 8-10 m class telescopes and the ambitious Extremely Large Telescopes. In his quest for sharper astronomical and biological imagery, he's developed sophisticated algorithms.

In the current phase of his remarkable journey, he's steering the ship as the collaboration manager for the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey. This project is focused on imaging and characterizing Jupiter-like exoplanets, leveraging an extreme AO system tailored for the Gemini South telescope.

Presently, Dr. Marchis directs a significant portion of his passion toward cutting-edge instruments capable of imaging and characterizing Earth-like exoplanets. He's deeply involved in education, public outreach, technology advancements, and scientific investigations intricately tied to these groundbreaking projects, both in the United States and Europe.

Beyond the realms of research and academia, Dr. Marchis is an essential player in astronomy startups. He holds the role of Chief Scientific Officer at Unistellar and serves as a scientific advisor at VR2Planets since 2017. His influence is not confined to these roles; he's an active member of several science committees, including the SETI Science council, GPI Steering Committee, TMT Science Definition Team, PLOS One editor board, Project Blue, and the PLANETS Foundation Advisory board.

His association with Observatoire de Paris dates back to 2003, where he continues to contribute and shape the future of planetary exploration.

His body of work is a testament to his expertise, boasting over 380 scientific publications and a legacy of mentoring numerous students. Dr. Marchis has also lent his expertise as a science consultant and interviewee for numerous documentaries and movies, contributing in English, French, and Spanish.

Recognitions and Awards

  • Recipient of one of the 2004 Grants in Honor of Professor Henri Chretien (AAS, September 2004)
  • In a notable honor, the asteroid (6639) was christened Marchis, recognizing his groundbreaking discovery of the first triple-asteroid system in 2007. 



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