Chao obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in petroleum geology from China and Ph. D. degrees in geology from McGill, Canada. After her Ph. D., she worked as a post-doctoral in University of Ottawa, a research associate in University of Calgary, a senior geologist and chief business representative in China for Canadian Silk Energy. Chao started her work with Saskatchewan Geological Survey, Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources since year 2005. Her current research interests are potash-related geology and hydrocarbon potential of Devonian formations in Saskatchewan.