Kyle Morgenstein

Robots, AI, and Astrobiology


Kyle Morgenstein is a first year MS/PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. He is excited about developing algorithms that will empower autonomous systems for astrobiology research, space exploration, and commercial space R&D. Kyle researches robust control and state estimation algorithms for legged robot locomotion. More specifically, Kyle is interested in developing and deploying robust state estimation algorithms and leg odometry for quadruped and hexapod robots. Kyle is also interested in the role of robotics and AI in society, and the ethics of automation.

Previously, Kyle graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with degrees in Aerospace Engineering and in Earth Atmospheric & Planetary Science, and won the Christopher Goetze Award for undergraduate research. As an undergraduate, Kyle's research focused on astrobiology, with projects spanning stellar interferometry, computer vision algorithms for visual navigation, and cyanobacterial micro-fossilization.

When Kyle is not in lab, he's an avid hiker, stargazer, and photographer. Kyle is always working on some sort of ridiculous personal project, and loves using tech to make people laugh. He also enjoys cooking, drawing, lifting weights, chocolate ice cream, and Club Penguin.

Current Research

State Estimation for Legged Robotics

We are collaborating with CSIRO to develop state-of-the-art state estimation and control algorithms for hexapod, quadruped, and bipedal robots. These robots must navigate difficult terrain, from caves on Earth to craters on Mars.

I'm experimenting with filamentous Cyanobacteria from Shark Bay, Australia to understand how silica controls in the Proterozoic ocean affected the preservation potential of ancient microbial mats.


Kyle is passionate about science outreach, education, and communication:

  • Since March 2020 Kyle has been an instructor for Skype-A-Scientist, offering guest lectures for K-12 classrooms across the country. Kyle primarily teaches astronomy and earth science.

  • Kyle is also an instructor through Beavers Who Tutor, where he teaches "Hands-On Machine Learning for the Curious Novice" for students ranging from high school to graduate-level.

  • Most recently, Kyle joined Letters to a Pre-Scientist, an organization promoting outreach by matching middle-schoolers with professional STEM pen-pals.