Senior Preceptor in Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Heidi Vollmer-Snarr is the Director of Advanced Undergraduate Laboratories and a Senior Preceptor on Chemistry and Chemical Biology (CCB). She oversees all of CCB’s advanced laboratory classes, conducts research with undergraduate students, develops curricula, and teaches organic chemistry courses. As part of her experimental research course, Dr. Vollmer-Snarr receives funding from Harvard’s Mindich Program in Engaged Scholarship to take her students to Capitol Hill to advocate for science policy related to their research. She also received the Faculty Curricular Innovation Award and a Harvard College Undergraduate Education Grant to develop and fund her programs. She is an elected member of the Faculty Council and also serves as a member on the Committee on Undergraduate Education and the Standing Committee on Public Service.
Dr. Vollmer-Snarr was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied chemistry and German at the University of Utah (B.S. and B.A. 1997), where she participated in research efforts to synthesize taxinine, a structural analogue of Taxol®, in the lab of Dr. Frederick G. West. She completed doctoral study at the University of Oxford (Ph.D. 2000). In her thesis work under Dr. Sir Jack Baldwin, she synthesized two biologically active marine alkaloids. She then worked with Dr. Koji Nakanishi at Columbia University as an NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellow.
In 2002, Dr. Vollmer-Snarr joined the faculty of Brigham Young University as Assistant Professor of Chemistry, conducting research involving bio-organic studies of age-related macular degeneration and developing targeted- and triggered-drug delivery systems for cancer therapy. In 2013, she began a position as Lecturer on Chemistry at Stanford University, where her research interests included using GC–MS to understand chemical mechanisms of biological processes. She also used biological mechanisms to teach fundamental organic chemistry in the classroom and laboratory, as well as in textbooks and online. She joined Harvard University in 2019.
In addition to her teaching and research responsibilities, Dr. Vollmer-Snarr is a co-author of Organic Chemistry with Biological Topics and serves on the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs, where she works on science policy and advocacy. She is on the Board of Directors of the Reach Foundation, an organization that provides mentorship and scholarships for first generation college students. She has also served on the National Institutes of Health study sections Small Business Sensory Technologies and Visual Systems.
Learn more about Dr. Vollmer-Snarr in an article on adapting chemistry curriculum to solve global problems like Covid-19, a Harvard Gazette article on adapting course curriculum for remote learning during the pandemic, and yet another piece on her efforts to teach students to advocate for legislation in Washington, D.C.