Key Figures

Francine Battaglia

Francine BattagliaFrancine Battaglia helped revitalize the Center for Building Energy Research (CBER) beginning in 2004. During that year, Battaglia served as CBER’s associate director. She then became the center’s director in 2005, and held that position through 2007.

Under Battaglia’s lead, CBER’s focus broadened and the center became more interdisciplinary. The new mission for the center was to support research in energy efficiency and utilization, HVAC systems and equipment, green building technology, alternative and renewable energy, air quality, climate and weather.

Additionally, during Battaglia’s first year as director, CBER joined Iowa State University’s (ISU) Institute for Physical Research and Technology (IPRT). This provided the center with administrative support and some university funding.  

Battaglia started her career in 1999 as an assistant professor in ISU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. She became an associate professor in 2005, and stayed at ISU through 2007. She then began working at Virginia Tech University, which is where she’s currently employed.

Battaglia’s research interests include computational fluid dynamics and heat transfer, building energy utilization and renewable/alternative fuel production and multiphase, turbulent and reacting flows.

Howard Shapiro

Howard ShapiroHoward Shapiro is the co-founder of the Center for Building Energy Research (CBER).

After founding CBER in 1991, Shapiro acted as co-director of the center until 2000. Additionally, Shapiro founded and then served as the director of Iowa State University’s (ISU) Industrial Assessment Center (IAC)  from 1990-1997. IAC offers free energy use, productivity enhancement and waste reduction assessments to qualifying manufacturers.

Howard’s major accomplishments as CBER director included helping the center receive $4 million in external funding, and being part of a 7-year project with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that provided technical assistance to the Energy Bureau in implementing over $200 million in energy improvements to state buildings.  

The mechanical engineering professor first came to ISU in 1975, and he taught in the College of Engineering for the next 30 years. In 1997, Shapiro became the College of Engineering’s assistant dean. The following year, he was named the vice provost for undergraduate programs, and he stayed in that position through 2004.

In 2005, Shapiro left ISU for Wayne State University where he served as the associate vice president for student services and undergraduate affairs until 2012. He then returned to ISU as a lecturer -- a position he currently holds.

Ron Nelson

Ron NelsonRon Nelson retired from Iowa State University (ISU) in May 2013 after teaching mechanical engineering for 33 years.

In the '80s, Nelson worked on the ISU energy Research House, which was designed by ISU mechanical engineering and architecture professor Jim Woods. They used the house to study solar collectors, thermal storage, building envelope and control technologies. At other facilities, Nelson and his colleagues conducted some early wind energy research.

Nelson later became interested in artificial intelligence as it pertains to building energy. He used building systems data and artificial neural networks to model how buildings operate before a retrofit is applied. Then the model can be used to assess the cost saving of retrofitting a building. Additionally, Nelson worked with adaptive control technologies using evolutionary strategies and fuzzy logic.

Nelson was also an instrumental part of CBER from its inception in 1991 till his retirement. In recent years he played a key role in the 2009 Solar Decathlon - a collegiate competition where teams from different schools design, build and operate solar-powered homes. The home designed by the CBER team is now located in Honey Creek Resort State Park, and CBER still uses it for research.