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In Memoriam: Teh Fu Yen, 83

In Memoriam: Teh Fu Yen, 83
Teh Fu Yen

Teh Fu “Dave” Yen, an environmental chemist who was a member of the USC faculty for more than 40 years, died Jan. 12 in a local hospital. He was 83.

He was a professor in the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“Dave Yen was a highly creative geochemistry researcher who specialized in developing innovative green technologies,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “He was beloved by his students and deeply respected by faculty colleagues. We will all miss him greatly.”

A few days before he died, Yen’s students visited him at the hospital to celebrate his 83rd birthday. “He was really happy, smiled a lot and talked to each one of the students who went to his surprise birthday party,” said Chia-Yu “Iris” Yang, a doctoral student in environmental engineering.

Raised in Kunming, capital of the Yunnan Province in China, Yen received his B.S. in chemistry from Huachung (Central China) University, an M.S. in chemistry and chemical engineering from West Virginia University and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry and biochemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

After a brief period on the faculty at California State University, Los Angeles, Yen joined the USC faculty in 1969 as an associate professor of biochemistry and of chemical and environmental engineering.

He was known for his research on the science and technology of alternative processes to achieve the environmentally benign use of fossil fuels. He pioneered an innovative process using bacteria, fungi and other methods to clean up dangerous toxic waste and developed an inter-metallic filter to remove sulfur from low-grade oil.

Yen produced more than 500 papers and was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 26 books. He was a founder of the geochemistry division of the American Chemical Society and an editor, founding editor or editorial board member of numerous technical journals.

A fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and the Institute of Petroleum, he received the Distinguished Faculty Member Award from the USC Alumni Association in 1975, among many other honors.

During his time at USC, Yen took only one semester of sabbatical leave in his early years to teach at the National Taiwan University in Taiwan. Afterward, he never took a vacation during the summer semester.

“He was working on a book even in the hospital,” said Jean-Pierre Bardet of the USC Viterbi School. “He was a gentleman and a scholar, much loved by his students, well known in several areas of engineering and chemistry.”

A memorial service will be held at the Sky Rose Chapel of Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary on Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. Visitation is scheduled on Jan. 22 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Yen is survived by his wife, Shiao-Ping.

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In Memoriam: Teh Fu Yen, 83

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