Chemist Jennifer Heemstra will join the Arts & Sciences faculty this July as the Charles Allen Thomas Professor of Chemistry. Currently a faculty member and director of faculty recruiting and development at Emory University, Heemstra is a highly regarded researcher whose work focuses on harnessing the molecular recognition and self-assembly properties of nucleic acids for applications in biosensing and bioimaging. Her spouse, John Heemstra Jr., will also join the faculty as a senior lecturer in chemistry.
In addition to her faculty role in Arts & Sciences, Heemstra will serve as chair of the Department of Chemistry, a position currently held by William Buhro, George E. Pake Professor in Arts & Sciences. Buhro plans to return to the faculty after serving as chair for 12 years.
“I could not be more thrilled to have recruited an exceptional scientist and inspiring leader for this critical role,” said Feng Sheng Hu, dean of Arts & Sciences. “Jen is a dedicated mentor who leads a superb research program, and her many talents will help strengthen the department as well as the research and educational mission of Arts & Sciences.”
“I am also grateful to Bill Buhro for his leadership and service to the department,” added Hu. “Jen will build on Bill’s efforts, placing the chemistry department on a very exciting trajectory through the coming years.”
Heemstra studied chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, where her undergraduate research inspired her ongoing interest in supramolecular chemistry. After completing her bachelor’s degree in 2000, Heemstra joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a doctoral student. There, Heemstra studied phenylene ethynylene cavitands, molecules that can provide insight into specific folding or reaction patterns of proteins. After earning her doctorate in 2005, Heemstra spent two years in industry, working on medicinal chemistry, before accepting a postdoctoral position at Harvard University.