Chang’s thesis describes the addition of artificial amino acids to the genetic code and demonstrates that these artificial genetic codes can confer a selective advantage in protein evolution experiments. Chang is currently a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley. His research includes the development of new methods for assembling simple biological systems as well as the establishment of new ways to precisely control the parameters of evolution in cells. Chang hopes that the integration of these two research areas will allow him to create, from the ground up, novel (and customized) biological functions whose complexity rivals that of natural organisms. Chang is also an accomplished musician.
As a Hertz Fellow, an NSF Fellow, and a Scripps Dean's Fellow, Chang Liu pursued his PhD in the Schultz group at The Scripps Research Institute. There, he evolved organisms with an expanded genetic code that allows the in vivo incorporation of more than the natural 20 amino acids into proteins. He has also developed a robust system for evolution with these artificially expanded genetic codes where enhanced function is conferred by chemically synthesized amino acids beyond the 20 encoded by nature.
Chang received his BA in Chemistry from Harvard University in 2005, graduating summa cum laude. He was a Harvard College Teaching Fellow, a founding member of Harvard's Undergraduate Chemistry Club, a Pfizer Synthetic Organic Chemistry Research Fellow, and an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa. His undergraduate research, for which he was awarded the Blumberg Creative Science Award, was conducted in the laboratory group of Prof. Stuart Schreiber where he developed chemical methods for the efficient parallel synthesis of numerous structurally diverse molecules.
In addition to his involvement in the sciences, Chang is an accomplished musician and musical scholar whose principle teachers have included preeminent concert pianists Robert Levin, Nicholas Zumbro, and Ozan Marsh. Chang has given solo recitals and has appeared with numerous orchestras nationwide since he was ten years of age and continues to be an active performer.
Chang is a published author in chemistry, biology, and music theory and is a United States Presidential Scholar. His time away from science is spent practicing and performing piano, cooking, skiing, and playing with his dog.