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Calvin College professor of chemistry Larry Louters is the recipient of the school’s 2012 Presidential Award for Exemplary Teaching—the highest honor Calvin bestows on a faculty member.

Larry Louters performs a fiery experiment.

“Larry has been the lead faculty member in our department to build the biochemistry program,” said chemistry professor Roger De Kock. “He just gets things done.”

Louters grew up in the small town of Hollandale in southern Minnesota near the Iowa border. He attended and played basketball at Dordt College (his coach was Calvin kinesiology professor emeritus Jim Timmer), where he still holds the single-season record with 12.9 rebounds per game during the 1970-71 season.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and went on to earn a master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1974 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 1984.

He started teaching at Calvin in 1984 on a two-year contract. Midway through Louters’s first semester, one of his colleagues was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to continue teaching. Louters filled in and, following the death of his colleague, was selected from a field of candidates for the position.

“I think what I really like about teaching is the puzzle of figuring out where the students [are] and helping them to understand,” he said.

“When students come into my office and we sit down with a pen and paper to figure something out—that’s a fun thing to me.”

Louters is also a researcher. His current work, focusing on a protein involved in the transport of glucose into cells, could have implications for cancer and diabetes research.

He has landed grants from the National Institutes of Health, Merck-AAS, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, allowing him to research and mentor students in research.

Louters is committed to raising up the next generation of chemistry majors. He has worked for many years with middle school students during summer chemistry camps and with students at chemistry-focused Academic Camps for Excellence.

This year he pioneered a Christmas chemistry camp where students used chromatography—a method for separating small quantities of complex mixtures and coming up with high-resolution images—to make paper Christmas tree ornaments.

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