Marc Heppener studied physical chemistry at the University of Amsterdam and obtained his PhD in 1986 on time-resolved molecular dissociation processes. In 1986 he joined the Space Research Organisation of the Netherlands, later taking up the position of programme manager for external research. In 1999 Marc joined the European Space Agency as head of the science and applications division in the directorate of human spaceflight and exploration. In this capacity he developed a science-based programme for life and physical sciences in space and served as European Mission Scientist for the International Space Station, interacting with partners in the US, Russia, Canada and Japan.
From 2009-2012 Marc joined the European Science Foundation as director of science and strategy development. He was engaged in implementing the actions from the EUROHORCs-ESF Road Map for Actions for a globally competitive European Research Area, notably in the areas of scientific foresight, European peer review, research infrastructures, careers and the establishment of a European Grant Union.
In 2012, Marc returned to ESA and became member of the cabinet of the Director General, with responsibility for the High-level Science Advisory Policy Committee, the highest level science advisory committee of ESA, dealing with long-term scientific and technological perspectives, science policy matters and interdisciplinary aspects of all scientific activities of the Agency. Recent Committee activities include the definition of four Grand Science Themes for ESA’s long-term future and finding new ways of communicating about scientific achievements of ESA’s missions.