Lou Chenghou, who was born in 1911 in Tianjin, graduated from Tsinghua University in 1932 with a bachelor of science in biology. Then he received a master’s degree from Lingnan University in 1934 and a doctorate in plant physiology in 1939 from the University of Minnesota.
After he returned to China, Lou was invited by Tang Peisong, another Minnesota alumnus, to join a research group at the plant physiology laboratory of Tsinghua University that Tang was directing. In 1949, he served as a professor of plant physiology at Beijing Agricultural University and later became the vice-president of the institution. He also served as a vice chairman for China Phytophysiology Association. In 1980, he was elected to be an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The University of Minnesota awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 2001.