Professor Zhao’s research focuses on how teams organize themselves in ways that maximize individual and team effectiveness. In particular, she is interested in how leadership and hierarchy structures in teams influence conflict management processes, interpersonal behavior, and performance. She utilizes multiple methodologies in her research, including surveys, experiments, and archival data analysis. Her work has been published in Academy of Management Annals and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. The implications of her research have been featured in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal; Fortune magazine; and Fast Company.

Professor Zhao has taught organizational behavior and negotiations in both Australia and the United States. At McIntire, she teaches the M.S. in Commerce "Organizational Behavior" and undergraduate "Strategic Leadership" courses. Before her academic career, she worked in consulting in Australia and the United States.

Professor Zhao received her Ph.D. from the University of Melbourne, and before joining the University of Virginia, she was a post-doctoral fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.