National leadership award win for Biology Professor

Leeds academic Professor Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso was named as the winner of the Education and Academic Leader award at the Forward Ladies Award Summit.

The awards, which were hosted at The Londoner Hotel in Leicester Square, London on Friday 24th November, honour the impact of female leadership, innovation and entrepreneurism in business and education. 

A trailblazer in plant research, Professor Benitez-Alfonso, leads a lab that carries out cross-disciplinary research to identify how plant cells communicate with each other using special channels, known as plasmodesmata.

Based in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, the interdisciplinary nature of her research has seen her collaborate with the Astbury Centre, the Bragg Centre for Materials Research, the Centre for Plant Sciences and Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI) at Leeds.

She is passionate about building an inclusive and supportive culture at the University, such as through her work supporting the University’s participation in the Race Equality Charter (REC) and co-founding the Black in Plant Science network.

This month, she also celebrated becoming the second black female from Leeds to earn a senior promotion after joining the ground-breaking 100 Black Women Professors NOW!

Commenting on her award, she said:

I’m so proud to be recognised in this way. I’m incredibly passionate about education because it has an immense power to unlock opportunity, whatever your background. I consider myself very lucky to support the next generation of scientists and leaders to reach their full potential. I’d like to thank all my mentors and colleagues throughout my career that have helped me in my own journey.

Breaking down barriers 

Now in its 13th year, this year’s awards focused on breaking down barriers in homage to the innovation and tenacity demonstrated through female leadership. 

Alongside the winner categories, there were a series of guest speakers including Griselda Togobo, electrical engineer and CEO of Forward Ladies, Genelle Aldred, Author, Broadcaster and Communications Consultant and Bonita Norris, a mountaineer who was the youngest person ever to reach both the summit of Everest and the North Pole. 

It was a such a privilege to share the room with such dynamic and talented women on Friday. I left feeling completely inspired. Together, we can achieve so much.

Professor Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso

Yoselin smiling at the camera