Eric Heller was born in Washington D.C. in 1946. He received his BS from the University of Minnesota in 1968, and his PhD in Chemical Physics in 1973 from Harvard University. After a postdoc at the University of Chicago, Rick joined the chemistry faculty at UCLA in 1975, becoming a Professor in 1981.
In 1981 he took a sabbatical at Los Alamos National Laboratory, ultimately joining LANL as a staff scientist until 1984 when he accepted a faculty position in chemistry at the University of Washington. In 1993, he returned to Harvard as Professor of Physics, and assumed his present position of Professor of Physics and Chemistry in 1998. In 2009, Heller was appointed the Abbot and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics at Harvard.