Distinguished Alumni

Kyle M. Becker, PhD, Class of 1987

Kyle was raised in the town of Boston by Paul and Eileen Becker along with his 6 siblings. At an early age he developed his independence, thirst for knowledge, and taste for challenges through riding and racing his bike. Unbeknownst to him, at the same time his teachers at Hamburg were providing the tools and a foundation on which to pursue a lifelong journey of questioning and discovery. After high school he attended Boston University and followed that with a Master’s degree at Penn State. He then earned a doctoral degree in Applied Ocean Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography and Ocean Engineering. With Ph.D. in hand, he returned to Penn State on the faculty of the Graduate Program in Acoustics. There he developed and taught courses, guided graduate students, and lead an active sea-going research program. In 2010 he was a Senior Scientist at the NATO Undersea Research Centre in La Spezia, Italy where he spent two years and served as Chief Scientist on multiple cruises aboard the NATO Research Vessel Alliance. For his research contributions he received the 2011 A.B. Wood Medal from the Institute of Acoustics (U.K.) and a 2014 NATO Scientific Achievement Award. Currently he is a Program Officer for the Office of Naval Research where he develops and manages basic and applied science programs with a global reach. His most recent project aims to understand, from a neurological point of view, how mammals, including bats, dolphins, and humans perform scene analysis using active acoustic sensing – or echolocation.