This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

UCLA engineer honored by National Academy of Sciences for research on bioenergy

UCLA's James Liao, acclaimed for his work developing more efficient biofuels, has received the 2014 National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science.
Liao, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor of Chemical Engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, was among 15 individuals honored for major contributions to the physical, biological and medical sciences.

The award, presented annually with a prize of $25,000, focused this year on the field of bioenergy, particularly scientific work with "beneficial applications in industry." Liao was recognized for his "production of higher alcohols as drop-in fuel from sugars, cellulose, waste protein, or carbon dioxide."

Liao uses metabolic engineering and synthetic biology techniques in his research. He has genetically modified bacteria to consume carbon dioxide and produce isobutanol, in essence turning exhaust into fuel. He has also developed a way to turn electricity into liquid fuel and a method for converting proteins into fuel.
Read the complete announcement at the UCLA Engineering website.
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