2020 Tien Award Recipient: Tsu-Jae King Liu

Tsu-Jae King Liu, Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, was selected for the 2020 Chang-Lin Tien Award for Leadership in Education. In addition to this honor, the Asian Pacific Fund is awarding a grant to establish a Chang-Lin Tien Scholarship Fund for University of California, Berkeley AAPI students.

“This award is especially humbling to me because Dr. Tien was Chancellor when I joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1996. I was touched by his warmth as a human being and affection for all things related to Berkeley, and am inspired by his example to advance the university’s noble mission of research, education, and service for the betterment of society.”

Dr. Liu is Dean and Roy W. Carlson Professor of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She is internationally recognized in academia and industry for her innovations in semiconductor technology, and is highly regarded for her achievements as a teacher, mentor and administrator.

Liu was born in Ithaca, New York while her parents, who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, were graduate students at Cornell University.  “After graduating from Cornell, my father conducted research in earthquake prediction, so he moved the family to California where the action was — and still is,” said Liu. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area during the tech boom, Liu was influenced to pursue a career in engineering and ended up earning her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She spent a few years as a member of research staff at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) before joining the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in 1996.

As a researcher, Liu has authored or co-authored more than 500 publications and holds 96 U.S. patents in the field of integrated-circuit devices and technology.  She is best known for co-developing an advanced fin-shaped field-effect transistor design, dubbed “FinFET,” that can be scaled down in physical dimensions to below 25 nanometers. Today, FinFETs are used in all leading-edge microprocessor chips.

Liu’s technical contributions have garnered her many honors, including elevation to Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, Member of the National Academy of Engineering, Member of the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame, and Member of the Board of Directors of Intel Corporation. Her awards include the DARPA Significant Technical Achievement Award, the Intel Outstanding Researcher in Nanotechnology Award, and the Semiconductor Industry Association University Research Award.

As an educator, Liu’s dedication in teaching and mentoring the next generation of engineers earned her the EE Division Outstanding Teaching Award, UC Berkeley Distinguished Faculty Mentoring Award and the Semiconductor Research Corporation Aristotle Award.

Liu became the 13th dean of the College of Engineering in 2018, and is the first woman to hold that position at UC Berkeley.  In this leadership role, she has bolstered efforts to recruit outstanding new faculty members who value diversity, equity and inclusion, and to enhance the success and well-being of all engineering students at Berkeley.  She aims to effect a cultural transformation within the college – and within the field of engineering in general – to be more welcoming, inclusive and socially connected, to help ensure that engineering innovations have broad, positive impact with minimal unintended negative consequences.

Prior to becoming dean, Liu held numerous administrative leadership roles. From 2016 to 2018, she was UC Berkeley’s vice provost for academic and space planning, overseeing the campus’ academic program review process, space planning, and international partnerships. In the College of Engineering, she also served as associate dean for research from 2008 to 2012. In the EECS department, Liu served as department chair from 2014 to 2016, EE division chair from 2012 to 2016, and vice chair for graduate matters from 2003 to 2004. In addition, she served as Faculty Director of the UC Berkeley Microfabrication Laboratory from 2000 to 2004 and from 2006 to 2008 and as Faculty Director for the UC Berkeley Marvell Nanofabrication Laboratory in 2012.

Liu is married and has two children. Her husband, Dr. David Kuan-Yu Liu, is a semiconductor industry veteran who has been a stalwart source of inspiration and support for her since their graduate school days at Stanford. Their affinity for engineering and for animals has influenced their sons: one is a Berkeley Engineering Ph.D. student while the other is enrolling this fall in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.