Michael Kearney

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Michael Kevin Kearney (born January 18, 1984, in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA) is a former child prodigy known for setting several world records and teaching college at the age of 17.

Early life[edit]

He was homeschooled by his parents, especially his mother, a Japanese-American.[1] He was diagnosed with ADHD and his parents declined to use the offered prescription of Ritalin. His younger sister, Maeghan, is also a child prodigy.[2]

He spoke his first words at four months.[3] At the age of six months, he said to his pediatrician "I have a left ear infection"[3] and learned to read at the age of ten months.[3] When Michael was four, he was given multiple-choice diagnostic tests for the Johns Hopkins precocious math program. Without having studied specifically for the exam, Michael achieved a perfect score.

He attended San Marin High School in Novato, California, for one year, graduating at the age of six in 1990.[4] He enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma County, California, graduating at age 8 with an Associate of Science in Geology.[4] He is listed in the Guinness Book as the world's youngest university graduate at the age of ten, receiving a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of South Alabama.[1][4]

Research and teaching[edit]

He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a master's degree in biochemistry at the age of 14. His 118-page thesis is entitled "Kinetic Isotope Effects of Thymidine Phosphorylase". His research focused on the kinetics of a glycosyltransferase involved in nucleotide synthesis. For a while, he was the world's youngest postgraduate and the holder of several Guinness world records, but the master's degree record was broken by Tathagat Avatar Tulsi.


In October 2006, he became a finalist on the Mark Burnett/AOL quiz/puzzle game Gold Rush, winning $100,000. In November 2006, in front of a national audience on Entertainment Tonight, he went on to win the grand prize of an additional $1,000,000. Kearney was also a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? which aired on April 25 & 28, 2008. He left with $25,000.

Kearney was also a contestant on Million Dollar Password which aired on June 14, 2009, but did not pass the elimination round after losing in the tiebreaker.


External links[edit]