Robert C. Brown Resume

Profile | Research | Teaching | Students | Resume


  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University, 1980
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Michigan State University, 1977
  • B.A. Mathematics, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1976
  • B.S. Physics, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1976 Academic Experience

Academic Experience

  • Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering, Iowa State University, 2008-presentz
  • Bergles Professor in Thermal Science, Iowa State University, 2003-2008
  • Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1993-present
  • Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 1993-present
  • Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, 2004-present
  • Director, Graduate Studies in Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 1991-1997
  • Associate Professor, Iowa State University, 1987-1993
  • Assistant Professor, Iowa State University, 1983-1987
  • Research Assistant, Michigan State University, 1978-1980
  • Teaching Assistant, Michigan State University, 1976-1978

Industrial and Other Non-academic Experience

  • Director, Bioeconomy Institute (BEI), Iowa State University, 2007-present. Dr. Brown serves as the founding director of the BEI, established by the Iowa Board of Regents in 2007 to manage ISU’s research, education, and outreach efforts related to biorenewables. It replaces the Office of Biorenewables Program, which coordinated the first five years of ISU’s Bioeconomy Initiative. The Bioeconomy Initiative played a major role in alerting Iowa policy makers of the potential impact of the emerging bioeconomy on the state, convince the state of Iowa to fund a new Biorenewables Laboratory Building on the ISU campus, support the College of Agriculture’s New Century Farm, and establish the $100 million Renewable Power Fund. The Bioeconomy Institute manages the seven year, $22.5 million partnership established with ConocoPhillips in 2007 as well as other multi-disciplinary, multi-investigator contracts with industry and federal agencies.
  • Director, Office of Biorenewables Programs (OBP), Iowa State University, 2002 – 2007. This university-wide program was selected as one of six presidential initiatives at ISU in 2002. Dr. Brown, as one of the founders of the “Bioeconomy Initiative” was appointed the first director of the OBP, which has a mission to coordinate research, education, and outreach activities in biobased products and bioenergy. Affiliated faculty and staff grew from less than a dozen to over 160 in five years. Annual research expenditures among the affiliated faculty increased from $10 million to $50 million in this same time period. The initiative also established the first-in-the-nation graduate program in Biorenewable Resources and Technology which is preparing students to work in the emerging Bioeconomy.
  • Director, Center for Sustainable Environmental Technology (CSET), Iowa State University, 1996-present. Originally focused on coal research, the center was reorganized under Dr. Brown’s leadership to emphasize thermochemical processing of biomass. Its annual expenditures have grown from $0.5 million to over $3 million and the number of affiliated faculty has increased from a handful to 35.
  • Co-Director, Biotechnology Byproducts Consortium (BBC), Iowa State University, 1998-2007. The BBC was a partnership between ISU and the University of Iowa with a mission to conduct fundamental and applied research to enhance the recovery and utilization of byproduct material from agribusinesses. Upon joining the consortium in 1998 as a co-director, Dr. Brown reorganized the program to increase the competitiveness of awards made to faculty in this USDA sponsored program. In 2006 the USDA deemed the BBC as a model for the administration of special programs of their special programs at universities.
  • Secretary, Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, BIOWA Development Association, 2003-2004. As part of his outreach activities with the OBP, Dr. Brown helped found BIOWA, and industrial development association with a mission to bring biorefineries to Iowa.
  • Leader, Fossil Energy Section, Environmental Technology Development Program, Ames National Laboratory, 1996-1997
  • Consultant to Toyota, John Deere, Cargill, Syncrude Canada, Dupont, Coskata (Vinod Khosla start-up company), Sriya Innovations, SynGest, Clean Harbors, City of Ames
  • Senior Engineer, Thermodynamics Group, General Dynamics Corporation, Fort Worth, Texas. Lead man in the Advanced Design Department, 1980-1983

Professional Association and Awards

  • Don Klass Award for Excellence in Thermochemical Conversion Science, presented by the Gas Technology Institute at the International Conference on Thermochemical Conversion Science, Chicago, IL, November 3, 2015.
  • Exemplary Faculty Mentor, Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, Iowa State University, May 2015.
  • Most cited article in Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining in 2013 and 2014 (Brown, T. R., and Brown, R. C., A review of cellulosic biofuel commercial-scale projects in the United States, Vol. 7, Issue 3, pages 235-245, May/June 2013).
  • Eminent Engineer, Tau Beta Pi, inducted as member at Iowa State University, April 28, 2013.
  • Book of the Year (“Why Are We Producing Biofuels?”), Biofuels Digest, December 31, 2012. “Top 100 People in Bioenergy,” (No. 57) Biofuels Digest, 2016. “Top 100 People in Bioenergy,” (No. 70) Biofuels Digest, 2015.
  • “Top 100 People in Bioenergy,” (No. 23) Biofuels Digest, 2013-2014.
  • “Top 100 People in Bioenergy,” (No. 47) Biofuels Digest, 2012-2013.
  • “Top 100 People in Bioenergy,” (No. 59) Biofuels Digest, 2011-2012.
  • “Top 100 People in Bioenergy,” (No. 61) Biofuels Digest, 2010-2011.
  • “Institutional Research Facility of the Year,” Biofuels Digest Annual Awards, December 29, 2010.
  • First Prize, Climate Change Category, Thirty-Year Challenge Policy Competition, Farm Foundation, for the essay “The Embedded Carbon Valuation System: A Policy Concept to Address Climate Change” (shared with Tristan Brown and Dermot Hayes), 2009.
  • Impact Award, ISU Alumni Association, 2007.
  • Dean’s Citation for Extraordinary Contributions, College of Agriculture, Iowa State University, 2007.
  • Distinguished Iowa Scientist Award, Iowa Academy of Science, April 21, 2006.
  • Iowa Farm Bureau Director, Office of Biorenewables Programs, 2006.
  • Visiting Scholar, John Deere Company, 2004
  • Vice Provost’s Special Citation, for service on the BIOWA Board of Directors, Iowa State University Extension, 2003.
  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineering International, March 2002.
  • David R. Boylan Eminent Faculty Award for Research, College of Engineering, Iowa State University, 2002.
  • Achievement by an Educational Team, Outstanding Service Award, Iowa State University Extension, 2002.
  • Leadership through Engineering Academic Diversity Program, Special Recognition Award, Iowa State University, 2000.
  • R&D 100 Award, Off-Line Carbon-in-Ash Monitor, Research & Development Magazine, 1997
  • Young Engineering Faculty Research Award, Iowa State University, College of Engineering, 1991
  • Professor of the Year, Iowa State University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 1986