MIT’s campus office faced a unique situation when 14 year old Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski stepped inside the office and asked for an approval for the single-engine plane she had built. Travel forward in time and the 22 year old is now an MIT graduate and a Harvard Ph.D.
She is a first-generation Cuban-American woman who already has job offers from Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon and aerospace developer and manufacturer Blue Origin). NASA has also shown an interest in the young physicist. Pasterski’s study is focused on exploring black holes and space-time and she is particularly paying attention on explaining gravity using quantum mechanics.
The Chicago native doesn’t own a Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram account. What’s more peculiar is that she doesn’t even own a smartphone. However, she does regularly update her website, PhysicsGirl, with her proficiencies and list of achievements. She was on MIT’s waitlist when she first applied, however that was before the MIT professors, Allen Haggerty and Earll Murman, were shown a video of her building her airplane. Haggerty says, “Our mouths were hanging open after we looked at it. Her potential is off the charts.”
She was accepted and graduated with a GPA of 5.00 – the school’s highest score that is possible. Andrew Strominger, Harvard professor and her advisor who is publishing a paper with Stephen Hawking, also praised her. She has been given grants of thousands of dollars from Hertz Foundation, Smith Foundation and the National Science Foundation for supporting her studies and work.
Pasterski says, “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.”