Yao holds a BA in Interior and Spatial Design from the University of the Arts London and a MA in Landscape Architecture from the University of Gloucestershire.

Currently she is undertaking a full-time PhD. Her research topic is: Researching food growing practice in the residential area of Beijing, China. Examining the spacial and social effectiveness from food growing initiatives.

Her primary supervisor is Damian Maye from the CCRI, and her secondary supervisor is Bob Moore.