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Vern Ehlers, a 16-year member of the United States House of Representatives and a former physics professor at Calvin College, announced he will retire when his term ends this year.

Ehlers, a member of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., represents the same area of Michigan once represented by former U.S. president Gerald Ford. His seat was previously held by former Calvin College professor Paul B. Henry.

Before serving in Congress, Ehlers served 11 years in Michigan’s state legislature. Ehlers was the first physicist in Congress, and has taken an active role in many science-related legislative issues, including the Great Lakes Legacy Act, which has led to major environmental cleanup efforts around the Great Lakes.

In a statement announcing his retirement, Ehlers said, “While I regret leaving when so much more needs to be done, I know it is time for me to step down.”

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