NCFIL Executive Director Aimutis Elected IFT Fellow
July 19, 2021
NC State leaders as well as the other partners opening the NC Food Innovation Lab knew without a doubt they had landed a food science unicorn when Dr. Bill Aimutis accepted their offer to become the inaugural Executive Director of NCFIL.
And his recent election as an IFT Fellow just publicly acknowledges what we’ve all known all along.
Aimutis was named a 2021 IFT Fellow, along with only 10 other members globally. An honor granted by peers, the IFT Fellow designation awards exceptional professionalism in food science.
“While many food scientists are presented with the chance to make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of others, few seize the opportunity like Dr. Bill Aimutis. His actions and positive impact have changed the people, companies, and university programs with which he has worked,” said NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Richard Linton, who nominated Aimutis for the recognition.
Institute of Food Technologists
With 17,000 members from 95+ countries, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is “an international, non-profit scientific society of professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related areas in academia, government and industry.”
IFT offers an actively collaborative environment in which food scientists create inspired scientific solutions that benefit people globally. IFT resources and services enable members to simultaneously grow their professional lives and the food science industry, thus supporting its mission statement, “to advance the science of food and its applications across the global food system.”
Annually, IFT provides its members the opportunity to nominate a peer for IFT Fellow recognition.
IFT Fellow Nomination
And this year, Aimutis was the perfect fit. “Dr. Aimutis’ outstanding accomplishments range from industry to academia, span decades, and impact individuals, departments, and the food industry,” said Dean Linton.
Requirements for consideration as an IFT fellow include: professional member of IFT for 15+ years; significant impact through contributions to Food Science in both industry and academia; excellence in leadership and mentoring; and dedicated commitment and service to the profession and IFT. Aimutis easily checked all the boxes as his contributions to food science and technology are varied and many.
Impact on Profession in Industry + Academia
With 35+ years of experience in national and multinational companies, Bill now steers NCFIL’s construction and commissioning and connects academic and industrial sectors, impacting lives and strengthening food science’s reputation. Before joining NCFIL, Aimutis drove industry transformation at Cargill, Inc as Research Fellow, Global Director of External Innovation, and Director of Global Food Research.
Throughout his industry career, Aimutis also embraced the academic community. Dr. Philip E. Nelson of Purdue’s College of Agriculture has “always valued Bill’s ability to think creatively and his advice on challenging research problems. His ability to provide detailed insights and guidance across such diverse areas of food science is extremely rare for a person that works in the food industry.”
According to Nelson, Aimutis has published 23 peer-reviewed publications, 1 published book, 41 invited presentations, 33 scientific abstracts, and 6 patents. He has acquired more than $1M in competitive grant funding, has extensive undergraduate and graduate teaching experience, and has advised 21 graduate students. Nelson said, “This is a remarkable set of achievements for someone that has worked for the industry almost his entire career.”
Aimutis has also held numerous leadership roles within government agencies, industry associations and universities as well as consistently reviewed several national and international journals.
Role with IFT
For 40 years, Aimutis has participated in the IFT Indiana, Chicago, Minnesota and Dogwood local sections, on nominating committees, with student groups and as a speaker. An active ambassador, he has championed IFT with employers and students and encourages staff in becoming active members and/or Certified Food Scientists.
Driving to Improve Food Science
Food science industry and academia currently seek to establish partnerships to leverage fiscal, intellectual, and capital resources. Throughout his career, Aimutis sought to identify and coordinate external relationships with major universities to conduct both tactical and strategic research for the companies he served. With NCFIL, collaboration continues to be his driving principle, only now from the side of academia.
“In his current role, he will continue to champion the science of food and connect academics, industry, and government to advance our discipline and the livelihood of those in North Carolina,” said Dean Linton. Just like a true IFT Fellow.