Distinguished scientist Li Liu grew up in a traditional Chinese family with her father being the General of the 13th Army in the CCP, while her mother was a battlefield doctor. She later attended Beijing University, where she found her mentor who put her on the first ever Polymer Chemistry project that was sponsored by the country. By age 22, she was already nominated and awarded with “National Chemistry Engineer”.
Even with all this success early in her career, Liu notes that historically, women in China were not widely respected in the 50s and 60s. She states:
“Back then, everything was strictly regulated in terms of what women could or could not do. Most women had no choice but to be suppressed for their entire life…”
Aside from these societal pressures, Liu also suffered from health issues throughout her life given her constant exposure to various chemicals at a very young age. She went on to develop severe symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and even tumors.
Even still, Liu has persevered against all odds and has found much success throughout her career, being recognized as a top scientist in her field. She is now a tenured professor, and was one of the first Chinese women to be granted visiting scholars status to prestigious universities like Carnegie Mellon and Cambridge University.
Along the way, Liu has learned that study and research should be a lifelong and ongoing process, stating:
“No one shall limit themselves in terms of how much they can learn.”
When times get tough, Liu has found it most helpful to de-stress by going on long runs through the park to clear her mind. Aside from being a chemistry professor, she is also a nutritionist, loving the time she gets to spend with her family cooking and preparing meals and knowing how important taking care of your health is.
After a long and rewarding career, Liu is planning on celebrating her retirement next year with a huge ceremony in celebration, though she states firmly that she will continue her research and studies even after retiring, showing her dedication to being a lifelong learner.