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Awards and Honors


1. Outstanding Student Chapter Advisor Award, 2021, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, selected from advisors to over 380 student chapters in 54 countries, 2021.

2.   Professional Achievement Award for Innovations in Green Process Engineering, 2021, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Global Home of Chemical Engineers, with more than 72,000 members in over 110 countries. The award recognizes an individual's outstanding professional achievement in advancing innovations in green process engineering for sustainable energy and environment and distinguished contribution as a professional engineer or chemist, industrial leader, or educator.

3.    Excellence in Process Development Research Award, 2020, American Institute of Chemical Engineers. For research to advance process development, product design, process intensification, intelligent design, and process simulation and optimization to accelerate process development. 

4.    Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2019; a lifetime distinction given by the world’s largest general scientific society and the publisher of Science to 443 scientists from 14 countries whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished”; cited specifically “for excellence in design teaching, pioneering textbooks and creative scholarship in sustainable engineering, and global leadership in implementing energy/water savings and CO2 capture”.

5.    National Friendship Award2000, given by Premier Zhu Rongjie on behalf of the State Council, People’s Republic of China, to top internationals working in China, for contributions to helping Chinese petrochemical industries with technology development and engineering training since 1992.

6.    AspenTech International Award for University Excellence in Computer-Aided Design1996, Aspen Technology, Cambridge, MA, for excellence in computer-aided design, as chosen from worldwide nominations from AspenTech software users among 900 universities in over 60 countries.


7.    U.S. Professors of the Year, one of 39 award winners in 2015. The U.S. Professors of the Year Awards salute the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students. Sponsored by the Council for Advancement of Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, it is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.

8.    FellowAmerican Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2002, in recognition and appreciation of superior achievements, valuable contributions and service in chemical engineering.             

9. Fred Merryfield Design Award American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), 1993, for creativity and demonstrated excellence in the teaching and research of engineering design.

10. George Westinghouse Award for excellence in engineering education, ASEE, 1990. ASEE’s highest honor for an engineering educator under age 45, for outstanding early achievements in both teaching and scholarship.

11. National Catalyst Award for excellence in chemical education, Chemical Manufacturers Association, 1986. Nominees for the award must be professors of chemistry, biochemistry, or chemical engineering with a minimum of 10 years of full‑time teaching experience in four‑year colleges in the United States and Canada.


12. Western Electric Fund Award for excellence in instruction of engineering students, ASEE, 1984.


13.  Outstanding Faculty Award, State Council of Higher Education of Virginia, 2000, awarded by Governor Jim Gilmore; the highest honor for a faculty at Virginia’s colleges and universities. For outstanding achievements in teaching, research and public services.


14. Undergraduate Organization Advisor Award, Student Engineers’ Council, Virginia Tech, in recognition of excellence in advising an engineering organization, February 2023.

15. Alumni Distinguished Professorship, a preeminent faculty appointment, reserved by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors for recognition of faculty members who demonstrate extraordinary accomplishments and academic citizenship through substantive scholarly contributions across all three of university’s core mission areas of teaching, research or creative activity, and engagement, 2012.

16. Outstanding Career Achievement Award, Tufts University graduate school of arts and sciences and school of engineering, 2010. Selected for the honor from more than 12,000 Tufts graduate alumni of arts, sciences, and engineering who have "with the help of his/her graduate education, excelled in his/her career of choice."

17. Gregory Botsaris Lectureship, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Tufts University, October, 2008. “Fundamentals and Industrial Practice of Water Reuse and Wastewater Minimization: How to Develop and Implement Significant Water Savings in Global Top Ten Chemical Companies?”

18. and 19. Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2007) and in Services (2000), College of Engineering, Virginia Tech.

20. Excellent Community Service Award presented by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Virginia Tech, 1998, in recognition of contributions to VT-ACSS as faculty advisor from 1995 to present.

21. Academy of Teaching Excellence, Virginia Tech, 1997.

22. Wine Award for a History of University Teaching Excellence, Virginia Tech Alumni Association, 1996-97.

23. and 24. Sporn Awards for Excellence in Engineering Teaching, Student Engineers’ Council, Virginia Tech, selected by student engineering society representatives for 7,000 engineering students, twice (2006-2007 and 1995-1996).

25. Certificate of Teaching Excellence, Virginia Tech, 1994. 

26. Distinguished Alumni Award, Tufts University, 1990.

27. Plaque of appreciation presented by the Chemical Engineering Faculty, Virginia Tech, October 1985, which reads as follows: "Presented by the Faculty of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech, to Y. A. Liu, Frank C. Vilbrandt Professor of Chemical Engineering, for his leadership in arranging for the Frank C. Vilbrandt Memorial Conference and Golden Anniversary Celebration, October 10‑11, 1985."

28. Frank C. Vilbrandt Endowed Professorship, Virginia Tech, 1983.

29. Alumni Professorship, Auburn University, 1980-82; the top chaired professorship      that can be awarded to a faculty member at Auburn University.

30. Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award, Auburn University, 4 times (1980‑81, 1979‑80, 1978‑79, 1976‑77), "for having demonstrated his ability as a stimulating, knowledgeable, and concise instructor and having shown a keen interest and concern for each student's personal development"; Best chemical engineering teacher selected by junior and senior chemical engineering students, Auburn University, 1975.  Received the best undergraduate and graduate course evaluations in the Chemical Engineering Department at Auburn University in 14 out of 17 quarters with teaching assignments since the mandatory student course evaluation system became effective in fall, 1975.