Staff Spotlight: Xiuyao Song, Ph.D.

Xiuyao Song, Ph.D., is the assistant director of research intelligence at the UF Health Cancer Center. In this role, she leads the center’s research intelligence team, which provides a wide range of application development and data analytics services for researchers.

Xiuyao Song, Ph.D.

Q: What is your hometown?

A: Zigui, China, which is nestled along the Yangtze River in Hubei province and is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and profound historical heritage.

Q: Describe your educational and professional background.  

A: I hold a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Florida and have 15 years of experience in information technology and software development. My professional journey has included collaborations with industry leaders like Yahoo! and diverse experiences, including contributions with a local startup company, Digi-Net, as well as roles with UF Academic Health Center IT and the UF department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics. These experiences have enriched my expertise in application development and data analytics, enabling me to excel in my current leadership role with the research intelligence team.

Q: How did you get into your current career path?

A: In early January 2020, I embarked on my current career path with the UF Health Cancer Center. This opportunity aligned perfectly with my aspiration to be part of a dynamic, creative environment, take on leading roles and contribute to innovative projects. I’m delighted to say that I’ve been dedicated to this career journey for the past four years, actively pursuing my goals and making a positive impact.

Q: What is a typical day like in your job?

A: A typical day in my role is dynamic and project focused. I oversee projects in application development, database design, data reporting and EDW system infrastructure. I work closely with our team to address questions, conduct code reviews and facilitate development testing and deployment. Simultaneously, I collaborate with our customers and other UF units to drive projects forward, ensuring effective communication and successful outcomes.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of working for the UF Health Cancer Center?

A: The most rewarding part of working for the UF Health Cancer Center is witnessing how our research intelligence products and EDW system have revolutionized the way our colleagues work. They are now freed from the time-consuming tasks of data retrieval, file updating and data reconciliation, as well as the burden of manual data verification and report preparation. With our products and the EDW system, report generation takes just seconds, and data maintenance and real-time queries are effortlessly handled through our admin portal. Beyond the enhanced work efficiency, we’ve achieved remarkable improvements in data accuracy and consistency.

“We have achieved remarkable improvements in data accuracy and consistency.”

Xiuyao Song, Ph.D.

Q: How do you keep your skills current and continue to learn and grow?

A: I believe in the importance of continuously improving my skills to better serve our organization. Expanding to a diverse data landscape and collaborating with other organizations has broadened my perspective. I often find myself asking questions such as, “How can we simplify tasks for our staff?” and “How can we enhance the user experience?” I also challenge myself with, “Can this data request be addressed with our system, and, if so, how will we achieve that?”

To address these questions, I actively engage in self-directed research, explore online resources and participate in training opportunities. The excitement of exploring answers and the sense of accomplishment in contributing effectively to our team and the organization as a whole drive my commitment to continuous learning.

Four people play violins in a holiday-themed setting.
Bringing holiday joy: Xiuyao Song and her children volunteered to play holiday music at the UF Health Medical Oncology – Davis Cancer Pavilion in December 2022.

Q: Describe how you would spend your ideal day off from work.

A: On my perfect day off, I enjoy a variety of activities that cater to my diverse interests. I might kick off the day with a morning hike on a local trail, savoring the fresh air and the touch of morning dew on leaves. With my camera always close by, I capture the beauty of nature around me, a passion that I find both skillful and deeply enjoyable. In the quiet afternoon of a crisp autumn day, I enjoy traveling to nearby cities with my family and my dog, watching my children as they excel in their sports and celebrating their accomplishments and growth.

If time allows before dusk, I like playing an invigorating game of tennis with friends or enjoying some fitness dancing. As the peaceful evening settles in, I may pick up my violin, play a few Bach minuets, and immerse myself in its melodies. My ideal day off brings together a wide range of experiences that revitalize both body and soul, ensuring a relaxed and enjoyable break from work.