Yvonne Barnett was awarded a first class honours degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences in 1986 and, in 1989, a PhD in Biochemistry and Genetics, from the University of Ulster. Following her PhD work, she worked for one year on a Medical Research Council funded research project at the University of Ulster. During this time, she was also a visiting scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in Hertfordshire.
In 1990, Yvonne Barnett was appointed as Lecturer in Biochemistry within the School of Biomedical Sciences, Senior Lecturer in 1997, Reader in Biomedical Sciences in 2000 and Professor of Biomedical Sciences in 2002, at the University of Ulster. In 2000, Yvonne Barnett was also appointed as Head of the School of Biomedical Sciences (RAE 1996 and 2001 double 5* rated) and as University Graduate Dean equivalent.
In 2004, Yvonne Barnett was appointed as Head of the College of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University and, in 2005, as Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of College, Science and Technology. In 2010 Yvonne led the creation of a new College of Arts and Science at the University and was appointed Pro Vice Chancellor for Research in 2011. Yvonne is a Chartered Scientist, a Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Science; Fellow of the Society of Biology and President of The Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Science.