China-native Yong Liang was the first member of his family to go to college and the first in his village to earn a bachelor’s degree. With a thirst for more, he enrolled at Shaanxi Normal University in China – a top-tier comprehensive research university with a focus on teacher education – to pursue his master’s degree in science.
In 2009, he came to FIU as a visiting scholar. Under the guidance of chemistry professor Stanislaw Wnuk, Yong was exposed to new research interests. Upon completion of his master’s degree the following year, Yong returned to FIU as a full time doctoral student studying under Wnuk – who proved to be an inspiring mentor and loyal friend.
Yong’s love for teaching is evident as he has been recognized with two excellence in teaching awards at FIU. His research accomplishments are equally impressive. Yong has co-authored nine scientific articles. His main area of research focuses on medicinal chemistry of nucleosides and nucleotides, the basic building blocks for DNA. He has developed an alternative method for the synthesis of selectively modified nucleosides – the active core components of pharmaceutical drugs used for antiviral therapy. Yong’s method is cost-effective and uses less toxic chemicals. He and Wnuk are in the process of creating a patent to use this in the treatment of diseases including the herpes simplex virus and the varicella zoster virus.
As he and his wife prepare to welcome their first child, Yong will continue to work in Wnuk’s lab. He hopes to eventually return to become a professor in China.