Chong Liu, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College, has received the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health. Liu will receive $1.9 million over the next five years to work on electrochemically controlled microbial communities.

The Liu group is working to enable precise control of chemical gradients in the extracellular medium of microbiology. This multidisciplinary research will enable a deeper understanding of disease-related microbial systems and help to formulate strategies to combat diseases.

Liu, who holds the Jeffrey and Helo Zink Endowed Professional Development Term Chair in Chemistry, majored in chemistry at Fudan University in China, where he synthesized mesoporous materials with Dongyuan Zhao. He earned his doctorate in chemistry at UC Berkeley, working with Peidong Yang.

An inorganic chemist, Liu’s research group has specific interests in electrochemical systems for energy, biology, and the environment. He joined the UCLA faculty as an assistant professor in 2017 and that same year was named one of 10 exceptional young scientists by Science News.