TMS Director/Chair, Membership Diversity & Development
Dean of the School of Engrg, University of Mississippi
Viola L. Acoff is the associate dean for undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Engineering at The University of Alabama (UA). She is also a full professor of metallurgical engineering and a member of the board of directors for Carpenter Technology Corporation.
Acoff received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in materials engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her areas of expertise are additive manufacturing, welding metallurgy, physical metallurgy, and materials characterization. She has been awarded more than $13 million in research grants, including a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.
She has more than 25 years of experience in increasing the number of STEM degrees awarded to students from groups underrepresented in the STEM fields. She has also introduced materials science to students at 82 of the nation’s 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in just over a decade. Since 2015, Acoff has led the Alabama Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program, which is a statewide effort funded by a $5 million grant from the NSF. Acoff has published over 80 peer reviewed papers and given over 100 talks on her research on every continent except Antarctica.
Acoff has served for more than 25 years in various volunteer aspects of TMS. This includes organizing symposia for technical and functional committees, serving on the Nominating Committee and on the TMS Foundation Board of Trustees, and serving as chair of the Ad Hoc Public and Governmental Affairs Sub-Committee on Racial Justice. Acoff was also named the inaugural recipient of the TMS Ellen Swallow Richards Diversity Award. She has also been active with ASM International and the American Welding Society.
Her vision for TMS is for the Society to enhance the programs and activities that are currently in place for membership and student development, with emphasis on groups that are underrepresented in our field, so that the Society can be prepared to address the changing demographics that lie ahead in the United States.