Weiyi Yao


I originally graduated with a 2.1 Honours degree in Biomedical Sciences at UCL (2013) and subsequently completed a Master degree in Biotech, bioprocessing and business at the University of Warwick (Distinction, 2014), during which time I developed a strong interest in bioenergy given their strong environmental and commercial potential. This eventually led me to apply to Leeds University's Bioenergy PhD program, which laid out a solid foundation for my career in academic research.  

My academic background is quite unique and is interdisciplinary in nature, spanning the fields of life sciences, biotechnology and business management and bioenergy. I also possess some work experience in the consulting and technology sector through extracurricular participation during my studies, from which I gained a broad repertoire of soft skills (i.e. networking, presentation, interpersonal). These includes business and energy, as well as technology consulting for Enactus and BMB Neon (representing Microsoft), respectively.

For biomedical sciences, my knowledge extends to the fields of genetics, human physiology, immunology, molecular biology, biochemistry and ethics in scientific research. Likewise, I also developed a strong understanding of different biotechnology applications and their practice use and commercialization within a strategic and global industry context during my Master studies. And finally for my bioenergy PhD, I acquired significant knowledge in conducting whole system based research for assessing biomass resource availability and utilization as well as renewable vehicle deployment across Europe.   

Research interests

Given the nature of my academic progression, my research experience is quite broad and interdisciplinary. To elaborate, they span the fields of life sciences, biotechnology and bioenergy with a specific focus on commercialization and whole system studies. My current research portfolio consists of the following topics (from most recent): 

  1. University of Leeds (2015; Jan-May; MSc Thesis) – European Union Transport Networks: A multi-case study analysis on electro-mobility development.
  2. University of Leeds (2015; Sep-Dec; MSc Thesis) – Whole system based study for assessing Leeds City Council’s biomass resources availability, utilization and application.
  3. University of Warwick (2014; June-Sep; MSc Thesis) – Analysis of Global Biotech Venture capital investment trends between 2004 and 2015.
  4. UCL (2013; March-June; BSc Thesis) - Qualitative and Quantitative analysis of the effectiveness of Sports Drinks in improving endurance exercises. 

For my main PhD research (to be carried out between 2016-2019), I plan to investigate ‘The effects and consequences of Biofuel deployment on Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) Automation’ in Europe, with aims to identify appropriate multi-stakeholder engagement models to equitably distribute the benefits derived from vehicle automation and bioenergy engine technology.    


  • MSc Biotechnology, Bioprocessing & Business Management
  • BSc Biomedical Sciences

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute of Process Research and Development