Marshall Perrin

Associate Astronomer w/ Tenure

Dr. Marshall Perrin's research seeks to understand our Earth’s context in the diversity of planetary systems, through high contrast imaging of nearby solar systems to discover and characterize the planets and planetesimal belts found there using advanced instrumentation, including coronagraphs, integral field spectrographs, and polarimeters, and sophisticated data analysis software. An expert in optics and wavefront control technologies, Dr. Perrin is JWST's Wavefront Sensing and Control Operations Lead, and oversees the technical work of a diverse team of scientists and engineers preparing to unfold, align, and optimize JWST's unprecedented deployable segmented primary mirror.

Dr. Perrin and his collaborators hope to answer long-standing questions about the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and ultimately whether there are other worlds nearby capable of supporting complex biospheres like our own. He helped develop the Gemini Planet Imager, as the lead architect of both the instrument's polarimetry mode and its overall data pipeline and data processing system, and is part of the team carrying out the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey key science program. He and his collaborators in STScI's Extrasolar Planetary Systems Imaging Group conduct investigations into nearby planetary and disk systems using the Hubble Space Telescope, in particular using the STIS and NICMOS coronagraphs and data archives. As a member of JWST's Telescope Scientist team, he is leading several of the first coronagraphic observations that will take place on JWST as part of the guaranteed time observing programs.

Dr. Perrin's work in JWST wavefront control builds on his expertise in optical control and adaptive optics. He leads and coordinates activities across teams at STScI, Goddard, and Ball Aerospace to prepare for the deployment, commissioning, and operation of JWST. These wide-ranging efforts have included key roles in ground testing and demonstration of JWST's mirror control and sensing methods during flight hardware testing, to developing flight commissioning plans and procedures, to complex systems engineering challenges in integrating tools and beginning team rehearsals in the Mission Operations Center at STScI. Dr. Perrin also initiated and has led the development of the WebbPSF optical modeling toolkit for JWST, and is a leading expert in preparations for coronagraphic science with JWST's NIRCam and MIRI instruments.

Along with Dr. Remi Soummer, Dr. Perrin co-founded STScI's Russell B. Makidon Optics Laboratory, and helps lead ongoing projects there by engineers, students, and scientists working together to develop ultra-high contrast methods for direct imaging of small rocky extrasolar planets from future space observatories. He is also a member of a Science Investigation Team for the WFIRST Coronagraph Instrument. The quest to discover and characterize nearby rocky planets — to understand how Earth-like or how dissimilar they are — is both a deeply compelling human goal, and also a dauntingly complex technical challenge that will drive these technical efforts for years to come as we prepare for NASA's future great observatories beyond JWST.

Before arriving at the Institute, Dr. Perrin was an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, and part of the Infrared Laboratory team there. Prior to that he as a graduate student at UC Berkeley he was a NASA Michelson Fellow.


PhD in Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley
MA in Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley
AB in Physics and Astronomy and Astrophysics, Harvard University



Science Interests:

  • Exoplanets
  • Circumstellar Disks
  • Astronomical Instrumentation
  • Coronagraphy
  • Polarimetry
  • Integral Field Spectroscopy
  • Wavefront Control
  • Space mission technologies and systems integration
  • Optical simulations and modeling


Research Topics: Star Formation, Histories, and Evolution; Exoplanets; Instrumentation; Circumstellar Disks


Professional Websites:

Professional Website

STScI Extrasolar Planetary Systems Imaging Group

STScI Makidon Optics Lab


ORCID ID: 0000-0002-3191-8151

To contact one of our research staff members
please call 410-338-4700 or view the index for their email alias