Misha Mahowald

Deceased Person

Dr. Michelle (Misha) Mahowald (1963–1996) was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a young girl, she used the name Misha (short for Michelle) as a nom-de-plume in her diary, but later adopted it as her official name. After graduating high school, she attended the California Institute of Technology, graduating with a degree in biology in 1985. She continued at Caltech as a PhD student in Computation and Neural Systems under the supervision of Professor Carver Mead, a specialist in computer science. For her thesis, Mahowald created her own project by combining the fields of biology, computer science, and electrical engineering, to produce the 'silicon retina.' The silicon retina used analog electrical circuits to mimic the biological functions of rod cells and cone cells in the retina of the eye. The invention was not only highly original and potentially useful as a device for restoring sight to the blind, but it was also one of the most eclectic feats of electrical and biological engineering of the time. This remarkable example of engineering earned Mahowald a well-deserved reputation as one of the most famous female engineers of her age. She was awarded a doctorate in computational  ( Wikipedia article )


Personal facts

Date of birth


Institution From To
California Institute of Technology


Date of death

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