Kyle grew up in Montoursville, a small town in the Susquehanna Valley of central Pennsylvania. He attended The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) for undergraduate studies, graduating in 2010 with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and a minor in Chemistry. Kyle was named Engineering Honors Graduate of the College of Earth & Mineral Sciences, an award given to the most accomplished graduating senior in an engineering discipline in the college.
Kyle was fortunate to participate in a great deal of research during his undergraduate career. Between his sophomore and junior years, he participated in an NSF REU at Virginia Tech under Prof. Robert Moore, where he performed research on ion-containing polymer membranes for fuel cells, a topic he resumed upon returning to Penn State. There, with the guidance of Prof. Michael Hickner, Kyle spent two years researching ion-containing polymers, taking on projects in engineering, synthetic chemistry, and morphological characterization. Between his junior and senior years, he travelled to MIT for another NSF REU, this time in the group of Prof. Krystyn Van Vliet. He performed creep experiments on individual human stem cells using a novel laser-based stretching device, examining the effects of a cytoskeleton-disrupting drug on the cells' mechanical properties, which has applications in label-free cancer diagnosis, cell sorting, and, in the case of stem cells, histological differentiation.
In April 2011, Kyle received a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. This award is among the most competitive available to graduate students in the general field of science and is granted to those demonstrating the "potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise." Kyle is also the recipient of the 2011 Santos Go Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding second year PSE student as judged by scholarly accomplishments accrued during the first year.
When Kyle was selecting graduate schools, he received tempting offers from many highly regarded institutions, but he ultimately chose PSE at UMass due to its open and cooperative learning environment and focus on polymers. UMass PSE boasts some of the best faculty and students in the field, and everyone is enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge. All aspects of modern polymer science are well represented: engineering, physics, and physical and synthetic chemistry, benefitting students with a great deal of flexibility regarding the subject of their Ph.Ds.
Currently, Kyle's research concerns the assembly behavior of colloidal particles (1-1000 nm) in binary polymer mixtures. When mechanical mixing or phase separation causes an interface to form between two immiscible or partially miscible fluids, particles migrate to and stabilize the interface between the two fluids in a manner similar to molecular surfactants, creating so-called "Pickering Emulsions" that possess much greater interfacial surface area than in the absence of particles. By controlling the size and surface chemistry of the colloids, one can carefully tune the numerous particle-particle and particle-fluid forces present in the system. Kyle's goal is to realize the "bijel" structure in polymer blends by utilizing the enhanced surfactant strength of chemically anisotropic "Janus" particles. Bijels are bicontinuous emulsions that are kinetically stabilized by the mechanical jamming of particles at the interface formed during spinodal phase separation, and may have important applications as micro-reaction media and novel separation membranes.