Three times a week at 11 a.m., students rush the doors of Lab Sci 300, shoving past the stream of winded freshmen trying to leave. The students are hurrying to get their front-row seats for optimal viewing of professor Richard Loomis’s next general chemistry lecture. Somehow, he manages to make a class of 300 anxious pre-meds burst into laughter several times an hour.
Students love Loomis because of his charisma—even in the back row, students aren’t going to fall asleep. They wait with baited breath for the next gimmick, whether it’s free Twizzlers or Red Bull distributed at random, or his son answering questions about quantum mechanics. But between all of the jokes, Loomis thoroughly explains everything, answers every question that comes up and stays at his desk for more than a half hour after the lecture to give extra help.
Sometimes when tours peek into the room, Loomis shouts for a prospective student to answer a question at the board. Everyone cheers as a high schooler walks slowly down the stairs, and Loomis, after making a politically incorrect joke about state schools or Wash. U.’s tuition, helps her figure out what to do. By simplifying the concept for her, everyone else can further understand the material.
Loomis loves pushing his students to grasp the complexity of chemistry, without creating a stressful atmosphere. “I don’t try to weed people out; I want it to be the students working together to learn,” Loomis said. “I like the light bulb that goes on above peoples’ heads—I like it when students get it.”