Yao Lu is Professor of Sociology and faculty affiliate of the Data Science Institute (DSI), Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC), Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI), and Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) at Columbia University.

Her research focuses on social stratification and inequality, with primary emphasis on inequality by gender, race/ethnicity, and nativity in the high-skilled labor markets. Her research draws on a range of quantitative methods for causal inference and computational data from various digital sources. Her work has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (including a K01 Career Development Award), the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.