Dr. Vollmer-Snarr develops curricula, oversees instrumentation, and teaches organic and biological chemistry courses at Stanford’s Department of Chemistry. Her research interests include using GC–MS to understand chemical mechanisms of biological processes. She also uses biological mechanisms to teach fundamental organic chemistry in the classroom and laboratory, as well as in textbooks and online. Dr. Vollmer-Snarr is a co-author of organic chemistry textbooks and online organic chemistry resource materials.
Heidi R. 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 Prof. Frederick G. West. She completed doctoral study at the University of Oxford (Ph.D. 2000). In her thesis work under Prof. Sir Jack Baldwin, she synthesized two biologically active marine alkaloids. She then worked with Prof. Koji Nakanishi at Columbia University as an NIH Postdoctoral Research Fellow. In 2002, she 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 & triggered-drug delivery systems for cancer therapy. In 2013 she moved to Stanford University, where she works in the undergraduate teaching program to develop curricula, modernize the laboratory instrumentation, and teach lecture and laboratory courses.
While continuing to provide students a rigorous study of chemical bonding, reactivity, and synthesis, Dr. Vollmer-Snarr and colleagues are working to incorporate more examples from nature that specifically illustrate salient organic chemistry reactions and mechanisms. They are also developing integrative organic chemistry lecture–laboratories to optimize student understanding, performance, and appreciation for chemistry. Multiple lecture demonstrations have been added to likewise connect the theoretical to the practical chemistry experience for the students.
Dr. Vollmer–Snarr has been a key participant in the selection and purchase of new instrumentation to modernize the Stanford undergraduate chemistry program. Each undergraduate laboratory classroom is now equipped with GC–MS, diamond ATR IR, UV–vis spectrophotometers, and temperature-controlled hotplates. She has successfully developed novel experiments using these instruments that are currently being used throughout the organic and bio-organic chemistry curriculum. New experiments developed for the GC–MS include a plant oil biodiesel lab and a cytochrome p450 drug metabolism lab.
Scientific Consulting and Outreach
Dr. Vollmer–Snarr has served on the National Institutes of Health study section Small Business Sensory Technologies. She currently serves on the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs and Member Advocacy Subcommittee, where she educates ACS members and legislators on science policy issues. She is also an Alternate Councilor for the Santa Clara Valley local section of the ACS. At Stanford she serves as an advisor to chemistry majors and performs “Chemistry Magic Shows” for elementary and underprivileged middle school students.
Sparrow, J. R., Cai, B. L., Fishkin, N., Jang, Y. P., Krane, S., Vollmer, H. R., … Nakanishi, K. (2003). A2E, a fluorophore of RPE lipofuscin: Can it cause RPE degeneration? RETINAL DEGENERATIONS: MECHANISMS AND EXPERIMENTAL THERAPY, 533, 205–211.
Sparrow, J. R., Vollmer-Snarr, H. R., Zhou, J. L., Jang, Y. P., Jockusch, S., Itagaki, Y., & Nakanishi, K. (2003). A2E-epoxides damage DNA in retinal pigment epithelial cells - Vitamin E and other antioxidants inhibit A2E-epoxide formation. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY, 278(20), 18207–18213.
Vollmer-Snarr, H. R., Pew, M. R., Alvarez, M. L., Cameron, D. J., Chen, Z. B., Walker, G. L., … Swallow, J. L. (2006). Amino-retinoid compounds in the human retinal pigment epithelium. RETINAL DEGENERATIVE DISEASES, 572, 69–74.
Ben-Shabat, S., Parish, C. A., Vollmer, H. R., Itagaki, Y., Fishkin, N., Nakanishi, K., & Sparrow, J. R. (2002). Biosynthetic studies of A2E, a major fluorophore of retinal pigment epithelial lipofuscin. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY, 277(9), 7183–7190.
Sparrow, J. R., Zhou, J., Ben-Shabat, S., Vollmer, H., Itagaki, Y., & Nakanishi, K. (2002). Involvement of oxidative mechanisms in blue-light-induced damage to A2E-laden RPE. INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCIENCE, 43(4), 1222–1227.
Karan, G., Lillo, C., Yang, Z., Cameron, D. J., Locke, K. G., Zhao, Y., … Zhang, K. (2005). Lipofuscin accumulation, abnormal electrophysiology, and photoreceptor degeneration in mutant ELOVL4 transgenic mice: A model for macular degeneration. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 102(11), 4164–4169.
Walker, D. P., Vollmer-Snarr, H. R., & Eberting, C. L. D. (2012). Ocular hazards of blue-light therapy in dermatology. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF DERMATOLOGY, 66(1), 130–135.
Smith, J. G., & Vollmer–Snarr, H. R. (2018). Organic Chemistry with Biological Topics. McGraw Hill.
Vollmer-Snarr, H. R., Fracisco, P. A., & Saephanh, N. (2016). Synthesis and characterization of biodiesel propyl esters to determine the fatty acid content of unknown plant oils. Comprehensive Organic Chemistry Experiments for the Laboratory Classroom (pp. 202–205). Royal Society of Chemistry.
Vives-Bauza, C., Anand, M., Shirazi, A. K., Magrane, J., Gao, J., Vollmer-Snarr, H. R., … Finnemann, S. C. (2008). The age lipid A2E and mitochondrial dysfunction synergistically impair phagocytosis by retinal pigment epithelial cells. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY, 283(36), 24770–24780.