Born and raised in Cebu City, Lawrence is currently associate professor at the Graduate School of Biosphere Science in Hiroshima University.
He was exposed early to the marine environment and diving when his uncles in Negros Oriental brought him along in their diving trips. He got smitten by the sea since then and went on to take up marine biology at the University of San Carlos and joining the teaching staff thereafter where he remained for almost 20 years.
He used his first paycheck to pay for his PADI Open Water diving certification (a paltry paycheck decades back in exchange for a spectacular experience!) under Boboy Mancao to live up to the adage that an aspiring marine biologist should not be contented just being an armchair or bench scientist.
Under a research fellowship grant, he spent a year studying the seaweed flora of the Cuyo Islands, Palawan at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
While pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he studied the morphological and genetic diversity of red seaweeds (including one new species he and his professor discovered and named Gracilariopsis carolinensis from the southeastern U.S.) and had the opportunity to explore the reefs of the Florida Keys on several occasions.
Back in the Philippines, he held teaching and research positions in De La Salle University and the Zamboanga State College of Marine Science and Technology under grants provided by the Commission on Higher Education while traveling around Southeast Asia to do collaborative projects (and countless diving opportunities) resulting to a number of joint publications.
He also spent a sabbatical year teaching at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.
His most engaging involvement in cave research came under a joint project with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research of the National University of Singapore which surveyed the rich aquatic fauna of Bohol and Panglao anchialine caves.
Among the several new discoveries of cave crustaceans, a new endemic species of cardinal shrimp (Caridina liaoi) was named for him.