Chemical engineering student earns technical entrepreneurship fellowship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Christopher Yehl, a chemical engineering doctoral candidate, recently received the Diefenderfer Graduate Fellowship from the Penn State College of Engineering for the 2020-21 academic year.

Christopher Yehl, a chemical engineering doctoral candidate, received the Diefenderfer Graduate Fellowship. Credit: Penn State College of Engineering / Penn StateCreative Commons

Established by the late William E. Diefenderfer, a Penn State mechanical engineering alumnus, and his late wife, Francesca, the award is intended to recognize graduate students with a demonstrated ability to combine technical studies with business and entrepreneurship learning opportunities.

Yehl earned his bachelor of science in business management at the University of South Carolina in 2008 and came to Penn State after roughly 10 years of work experience.

“Having majored in business management and marketing, with a strong personal interest in renewable resources and workplace optimization, I centered my personal and professional life on improving processes,” Yehl said.

In his research, Yehl investigates the repurposing and modification of synthetic membranes for use in the manufacturing of biotherapeutics, medicines derived from biological sources. He has collaborated with Cytiva Life Sciences and Pall Corporation, companies that support the biotechnology industry. 

Yehl credited his adviser, Andrew Zydney, Bayard D. Kunkle Chair and professor of chemical engineering, with giving him the support and guidance necessary for conducting research with potentially significant medical applications.

Yehl is a member of the Penn State Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association and served as its treasurer from 2019-20. He is also a member of the North American Membrane Society (NAMS) and received an Elias Klein award to fund his attendance to the 2019 NAMS conference. 

Yehl said he felt honored to receive the Diefenderfer fellowship.

“This award’s immediate impact is the financial freedom and resources to further explore the viability of these modified membranes to the biotherapeutics market,” he said. “The future impact is immeasurable, but I guarantee it will be great and will help me change the world in a positive way.”

Last Updated December 04, 2020