Dr Chao graduated with a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town in December 2015 with a Type-A result, meaning that all examiners rated her work as significant and original and one that needed no corrections. Her research focussed on scaffolding Java programming on a mobile phone for novice learners, especially in resource-constrained environments such as developing countries. Dr Chao's research has been published in several peer-reveiwed conference proceedings.
Dr Chao is also a winner of the Schlumberger Faculty for the Future award 2015, and was also selected as one of 200 young researchers worldwide in Mathematics and Computer Science to attend the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany in 2015. In 2014, Dr Chao was one of the winners of the 2014 Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship: EMEA. She was also featured in an online blog that mentions more of the award and some of her comments after receiving the announcement.
Dr Chao holds an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Oxford and a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science from Kenya Methodist University.
Dr Chao is currently a lecturer in the department of Computer Science. Dr Chao was the head of department for Computer Science from January 2010 - January 2012. Her current research interests are in educational technology in general and in particular, the use of mobile phones for learning programming, especially among new learners.