James C. Liao, UCLA's Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Chair in Chemical Engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named to Taiwan's Academia Sinica, the preeminent academic institution in the Republic of China. Liao was one of 18 new academicians and two new honorary academicians that the academy announced on July 4 at its biennial convention. Liao, chair of the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, was elected to in the academy’s Life Sciences Division.

Liao uses metabolic engineering and synthetic biology techniques in his research. He focuses on developing the biological production of the liquid fuel isobutanol while simultaneously consuming carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. This series of reactions, in essence turning exhaust into fuel, is powered directly by sunlight. He has also developed different methods to create liquid fuels from electricity and from waste proteins; as well as identifying a more efficient way to convert sugars into fuels.

Liao is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received many honors for his work. He joins four other faculty from UCLA Engineering who were previouly elected to Academia Sinica.