Two faculty members of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been elected fellows of the National Academy of Inventors – James C. Liao, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Professor of Chemical Engineering, and M.C. Frank Chang, the Wintek Chair in Electrical Engineering. The organization announced this year’s class of 168 fellows on December 15.
The honor recognizes those who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society.
Liao, who is the chair of UCLA’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and the Bioengineering Department, is acclaimed for his work developing more efficient biofuels. He has synthesized bacteria both to consume carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas, and to produce the liquid fuel isobutanol. In essence, he and his team turned exhaust into fuel in a series of biochemical reactions powered directly by sunlight. He has also developed a way to turn electricity into liquid fuel, as well as a method for converting waste proteins into fuel. His techniques can be used to address obesity by increasing metabolism rates — research that showed successful results in mice.
Liao also holds a faculty appointment in UCLA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He has received numerous honors and awards for his research, including election to the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences.
He is known for his pioneering technical and research contributions in the development of high-speed and high-frequency III-V semiconductor materials, devices and RF/wireless and mixed-signal GaAs Heterojunction Bipolar Transistors (HBT) and Si CMOS integrated circuits for communication, interconnect and imaging systems. Prior to joining UCLA in 1997, Chang was the Assistant Director and Department Manager of the High Speed Electronics Laboratory of Rockwell International Science Center.
Chang has received numerous honors for his work including election to the National Academy of Engineering.