on faculty since 1977
Ph.D., Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, 1971
B.A., Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1967
Dr. Lou Sytsma could cite any number of professional awards, grants, presentations, and publications as evidence of his expertise in the field of organic chemistry. But the honors of which he is most proud have nothing to do with his profession.
Sytsma received an “Award of Outstanding Merit” for work with mentally-handicapped boys while enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Ohio University in 1970. He and his first wife, Charlene, were also honored by Trinity as “Alumni of the Year” in 1984.
The reasons Sytsma gives for teaching at Trinity are familiar ones. “I came to Trinity because I believe in its mission. It is the school where I met my first wife and it is not only our alma mater but both of our children are Trinity graduates. The College has been a large part of my life and the life of my children and our community. My main goal is to do my part to have a quality program in chemistry at this school,” said Sytsma.
His teaching philosophy centers on Colossians 3, which states that “whatever [we] do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord.” Whether teaching or studying, Sytsma applies the same philosophy to both.
The chemistry department chair is justifiably proud of the success of his students. “Over a third of our graduates who majored in chemistry have gone on to get a Ph.D. or M.D. That makes me proud and satisfied, but I have equal satisfaction in the other graduates who are serving the Lord in their chosen professions and return to Trinity to indicate their approval of the preparation that Trinity gave them.”
After graduating from Trinity’s two-year program in 1965, Sytsma earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Calvin College, and then completed a doctoral program in organic chemistry at Ohio University four years later. He appreciates the advantages Trinity offers its chemistry students by virtue of its location in the Chicago area and proximity to Argonne National Laboratory, where many students have gained valuable research experience. As a member of ACCA, a 16-college consortium, Trinity can offer specialty courses and provide an outlet for presentations on research performed by students.
In addition to his teaching duties, Sytsma has worked at Argonne National Laboratory during summers and sabbaticals, where he engaged in environmental organic analyses in areas such as analyses of chemical warfare agents at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Maryland) and Dugway Proving Ground (Utah), a textile factory in North Carolina, Army bases in Virginia, and phytoremediation studies in Illinois and Maryland.
Sytsma has also taught courses in environmental chemistry and groundwater stewardship at AuSable Institute of Environmental Studies (MI), and has served as the environmental manager responsible for permitting, analyses and government environmental compliance at ready-mix plants for Ozinga Brothers in Mokena, Illinois, since 1989.
A resident of Palos Heights, Sytsma changes out of his lab coat to play tennis twice a week, golf whenever possible, bicycle, and conduct genealogical research, having traced his family’s roots as far back as 1700s Netherlands. He and his wife, Georgia Lubben, a family practice physician in Jackson Park, attend Palos Heights Christian Reformed Church. Along with his two older children, Erick ’98 and Anne ’01, Sytsma has a teenaged stepdaughter, India, and five grandchildren.
“Evaluation of Electronic Nose Technology for USDA Applications in Detecting Contraband Meat Products and Vegetation.” J. Schneider, L. Sytsma, et.al. Argonne National Laboratory Sponsor Report submitted to National Science Program Agricultural Quarantine Inspection & Port Technology USDA. 2003.
“Development of an Analytical Methodology for Sarin (GB) and Soman (GD) in Various Military-Related Wastes.” Journal of Chromatography. H. O’Neill, K. Brubaker, J. Schneider, L. Sytsma. A (2002), 962 (1-2), 183-195.
“Use of SPME/GC to Monitor the Progress of Phytoremediation of a Site Contaminated by Chlorinated Compounds.” L. Sytsma, N. Bosch, J. Schneider. Pittsburgh Conference. March 2001.