Leyte Winfield is a teacher, mentor, and scholar dedicated to nurturing potential and empowering agency in women of African descent pursuing careers in STEM. She has been on faculty at Spelman College since 2003. During this time, she has established a research program that investigates the relationship between the structure of a molecule, particularly benzimidazoles, and its utility as a therapeutic agent against breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. Her research has been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Council for Undergraduate Research and has been funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
In addition, the work has resulted in publications in leading industry journals and six patents covering more than 150 small molecules. Her leadership experience extends across and beyond the academic environment.
As Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Spelman College, she has built upon the strength of the department’s past success, to establish new strategies for structured curricular reform. She is currently leading the department’s efforts to broaden the curriculum to meet the ideals of a liberal arts education while simultaneously providing students with resources that promote improved engagement and performance in the majors. A hallmark of the effort is its rigor, which challenges exceptional students while providing mechanisms that nurture the success of under-performing students.
In addition to her current role as department chair, her record of leadership has included service as Director of the NSF-funded HBCU-UP ASPIRE, the ExxonMobil WISE Scholars, the NIH-funded Women of Color Legacy (WCL), and the endowed Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Scholars programs. These activities reflect programmatic efforts geared towards improving diversity in STEM. In collaboration with the Spelman College Chemistry Club and the Atlanta Area Professional Chapter of the National Organization of Black Chemist and Chemical Engineers, she is involved in a number of outreach activities including the Super Science Saturday and the Girl Scouts STEM Expo, which engages more than 20,000 youth in the metro Atlanta area in STEM activities. Further, she served as a commissioned officer in the US Army Reserve (resigned 2009) and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church.
Her collective experiences reflect her dedication to creating culturally responsive programs and curricula that result in the productive engagement of minorities and women in various academic setting and in activities that promote gender equity in STEM.