Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is an American theoretical physicist from Chicago who studies high energy physics. She describes herself as “a proud first-generation Cuban-American & Chicago Public Schools alumna.
At 23, Sabrina Pasterski has a standing job offer from NASA. Her research has been cited by Stephen Hawking, and it’s been nearly a decade since she built her first plane engine. Kind of makes us wonder what we’re doing with our lives.
A Talent for Building Spacecraft
Sabrina Pasterski has her eye on the prize: the 23-year-old Harvard PhD student (and top MIT grad) has never had an alcoholic drink or a cigarette, and isn’t on any form of social media, from Facebook to LinkedIn. She doesn’t even own a smartphone. “I’d rather stay alert, and hopefully I’m known for what I do and not what I don’t do,” Pasterski.
And what she does is incredible: Pasterski researches black holes, spacetime, and quantum gravity, and her papers have been cited by the likes of Andrew Strominger (her advisor at Harvard) and Stephen Hawking. One of the special skills she lists on her résumé? “Spotting elegance within the chaos.”
It’s not hype, either–her papers have been cited by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Andrew Strominger. She was also the first woman to graduate at the top of her undergrad program in 20 years and is now a Harvard Ph. D. candidate at just 22 years old.
But who is she? See if you knew these facts about the exceptional Sabrina Pasterski:
1. Sabrina Pasterski is a first generation Cuban-American; she was born in Chicago in 1993, then enrolled in the Edison Regional Gifted Center in 1998. She graduated from Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in 2010.
2. She studies black holes and spacetime, with a focus on explaining gravity in the context of quantum mechanics.
3. Pasterski began taking flying lessons in 2003 and by 2006, started building her first kit aircraft. A year later, she soloed her fixed wing single engine Cessna 150 in Canada and in 2008, her aircraft was deemed airworthy.
4. A paper released in early January, authored by Stephen W. Hawking, Malcolm J. Perry and Andrew Strominger, cites two papers co-authored by Sabrina Pasterski and another she authored on her own.
5. According to NextShark, Pasterski has already been offered jobs by Jeff Bezos at Amazon and aerospace developer/manufacturer Blue Origin.
6. An only child, Pasterski told Yahoo she has never had a boyfriend, smoked a cigarette or tried an alcoholic drink.
7. Pasterski was waitlisted when she first applied to MIT. In 2011, she won the school’s Freshman award for “Entrepreneurship.” On graduation, she had earned a 5.00 GPA, the highest possible score.
8. Pasterski doesn’t own a smartphone. Unlike most millennials, she also avoids social media; you won’t find her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even LinkedIn. However, she does keep her website PhysicsGirl current with her many accomplishments and accolades.
9. That doesn’t mean she’s totally offline… Pasterski uploaded a video called “Sabrina 2006: Building an Airplane for My Dad” in 2008. It’s been viewed over 193,000 times and she interacts with viewers in the comments.
10. Her adviser at Harvard, where she’s now a Ph. D. candidate, is Andrew Strominger.
11. Pasterski has been granted thousands of dollars to support her work, including a $250,000 fellowship (through 2020) with the Hertz Foundation and a $150,000 fellowship (also through 2020) with The National Science Foundation.
12. She was born to become a physics genius. Pasterski recently told Yahoo, “Physics itself is exciting enough. It’s not like a 9-to-5 thing. When you’re tired you sleep, and when you’re not, you do physics.”
13. The first paper Pasterski ever wrote was accepted by the Journal of High-Energy Physics within 24 hours of its submission.
14. Pasterski seems embarrassed by the attention she’s receiving. On her website, she posted an article published about her recently that refers to her as the “next Einstein.” She comments alongside the article: “Sorry for the title, my mentors appear to have astronomically high hopes for me.”
15. Pasterski graced the front page of the Chicago Tribune on May 2, 2010, when she was just 16 years old. A photo of young Sabrina in her airplane accompanied a feature on the Chicago Tribune All-State Academic Team.
16. In 2012, Pasterski was featured in a “30 Under 30” column in Scientific American. She was 19 years old at the time and named Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as the person who drew her to physics (no wonder he has a standing job offer for her now!).
17. Already an accomplished speaker, Pasterski has given talks at Princeton, Harvard (including the Faculty Conference), MIT, and Forbes Summit Philadelphia.
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