College of Engineering Commencement Graduate Student Speaker Yao Xiao Speaks at Graduation One Year Later

Yao Xiao earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Florida in spring 2020. She was selected as the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Commencement Student Speaker.

However, due to COVID-19, commencement ceremonies were held virtually, and Xiao was not able to give her speech.

One year later, in spring 2021, UF held its first in-person commencement ceremonies since 2019. Xiao was finally given the chance to deliver her speech for the Class of 2020.

“It was like a gift, as I never thought that I actually would have the chance to speak at the graduation ceremony. That was super exciting, even though the video was pre-recorded,” Xiao said. “I was so grateful that I had that platform for others to hear my voice from the heart.

Xiao was happy to be able to inspire and influence others. “Remember how you get here today, so, don’t give up in the future,” she said.

While at UF, Xiao was part of the Smart Medical Informatics Learning and Evaluation (SMILE) Lab under the mentorship of Dr. Ruogu Fang. She worked on medical image analysis, specifically diagnostic CT image quality enhancement and radiation exposure optimization using deep learning techniques.

In 2020 she also was awarded the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Career Development Award. The award supports travel to the BMES Annual Meeting for Graduate Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, and Early Career Professionals from underrepresented populations in biomedical engineering.

Winning the award “increased my visibility as a new graduate back in 2020,” Xiao said. “In addition, I became more confident in research and the future in pursuing jobs in academia.”

Since completing her Ph.D. in 2020, Xiao is now a postdoc at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her team is developing an automatic tool that can help in radiation therapy.