Ka Un Lao was born in Macau and received a B.S. degree with a major in chemistry and a minor in Physics, and an M.S. degree in chemistry from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan working with Chin-hui Yu. He completed his Ph.D. in physical/theoretical chemistry at The Ohio State University under the guidance of John M. Herbert. This was followed by postdoctoral work with Robert A. DiStasio Jr. at Cornell University. He joined the Department of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Professor in 2019.