James Liao named Academia Sinica President

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liao jim 2015

Professor James Liao has been appointed the 11th president of Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s collection of national laboratories. 

One of the worldwide most appreciated experts in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, Liao obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the National Taiwan University in 1980. He received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987 and he was a research scientist at the Eastman Kodak Company before he moved to Texas A&M University in 1990. In 1997, Liao joined the faculty of UCLA where is currently the Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a member of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Liao was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2013, and to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2015 for his advances in metabolic engineering of microorganisms to produce fuels and chemicals. He has been an academician of Academia Sinica since 2014.

To learn more about Liao’s research, visit his group’s website.


Taiwan Today 

(June 22, 2016):
Liao Academia Sinica

Vice President Chen Chien-jen (center) is all smiles as Academia Sinica President James C. Liao (right) receives the research institution’s official seal from acting President Wang Fan-sen (left) during the swearing-in ceremony June 21 in Taipei City. (CNA)

Liao sworn in as president of Taiwan’s Academia Sinica

James C. Liao, a renowned scientist in metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and systems biology, was sworn in as the 11th president of Academia Sinica June 21 in Taipei City, succeeding Wong Chi-huey as head of Taiwan’s top research institution.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Republic of China (Taiwan) Vice President Chen Chien-jen commended Academia Sinica for creating new knowledge and proposing policy advice on key national development issues. He said it is expected Academia Sinica will chalk up even more milestone achievements under Liao’s leadership.

In response, Liao pledged to establish Academia Sinica as the Asian leader in its core areas of competency, and unveiled three visions set to define his five-year term.

“We will promote social improvement through directing basic research towards practical applications,” Liao said. “This is to be achieved through balanced development of humanities, social and life sciences, as well as mathematics, physical and engineering sciences, with a focus on addressing Taiwan’s challenging social issues.”

Equally important, Liao said, is the fact that Academia Sinica is committed to making a tangible contribution to research and society, rather than simply focusing on performance measured against quantitative indicators.

Liao graduated from Taipei City-based National Taiwan University in 1980 and received his doctorate in chemical engineering from University of Wisconsin-Madison seven years later. After working briefly as a research scientist for U.S. technology firm Eastman Kodak Co. in New York State, Liao continued his academic pursuits at Texas A&M University before moving to University of California, Los Angeles, in 1997.

During a career spanning 26 years, Liao received numerous awards and honors. These include U.S. National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science in 2014, ENI Renewable Energy Prize bestowed by the president of Italy in 2013, White House Champion of Change for innovations in renewable energy in 2012 and U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2010.

Liao was elected an Academician of Academia Sinica in 2014. Prior to the presidency, he chaired the UCLA Departments of Bioengineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Academia Sinica is Taiwan’s top research institution. It was established in 1928 in the mainland Chinese city of Nanjing to promote and undertake scholarly research in sciences and humanities. Following the relocation of the Republic of China government to Taiwan in 1949, the institution was re-established in Taipei. Its president is selected by Academicians and appointed by the ROC president.