A Farewell to AIF

As many of you know, we were recently awarded an NSF Science and Technology Center, otherwise known as an STC. STCs are among the most prestigious of NSF Centers and they require substantial commitments of both time and effort from their leaders. Therefore, at the end of September, I will be stepping down from my current position as the AIF Director. This transition comes with mixed emotions, primarily because the interdisciplinary experiences I acquired within AIF helped to lead us to the topic of our newly founded STC. In addition to said mixed emotions, the administrative experiences in this position provided convincing evidence that I will be able to perform the administrative functions of an STC Director.

I came to NC State in the summer of 2013 and was appointed as the AIF Director in January of 2014. Much has changed within AIF throughout these eight years. We’ve upgraded many instruments, including SEMs, TEMs, FIB, and XRD. Along with these instrument upgrades, we acquired new tools that brought amazing capabilities. For example, these include X-ray CT, a laser profilometry, nanoindentation, Raman microscopy, in situ cells, and a complete suite to support biological EM preparation and imaging. We also hired and supported many talented staff members and, together, we fostered a sense of community. We shared ownership of strategy and decisions and cultivated stakeholder engagement that brought about wonderful partnerships with others, including but not limited to the Office of Research and Innovation, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Duke and UNC shared facilities through the RTNN, and important faculty support of the AIF. All of this was done with one objective in mind: to support and enhance research and education at NC State and in the State of North Carolina. The metrics of success can be found in our annual reports – consistently increasing user hours over sustained periods of time, a fast growing list of peer-reviewed publications that acknowledge the facility, consistently high user evaluation scores, and powerful stories from our industry users when they are allowed to speak publicly about their work in AIF. I am very grateful for the opportunity to have served in this capacity and within this community. I thank everyone who has been a part of AIF, in any capacity, over the past eight years for your collaboration and partnership.

Moving forward, you can expect the same level of transparency, engagement, and quality that you have now. The College of Engineering is currently executing a transition plan. I’m fully supportive and excited for what is to come, and I hope you will be as well. I look forward to seeing many of you in the AIF labs in the future, but this time, as peer users!


Jacob L. Jones