After working as a research scientist at Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, NY, he started his academic career at Texas A&M University in 1990 and moved to the University of California, Los Angeles in 1997. He was Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Chair Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering until 2016. He has served as President of the Academy of Sciences located in Taipei since June 2016.
Professor Liao is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Academician of the Academy of Sciences located in Taipei. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2010), the White House “Champion of Change” for innovations in renewable energy (2012), the ENI Renewable Energy Prize bestowed by the President of Italy in 2013, and the 2014 National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science.