She’s only 22, but Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski, a Cuban-American from Chicago, is already being talked about as the next Einstein.
Forbes, Scientific American and the Chicago Tribune have all written about the next physics “it girl.” The science prodigy is currently a doctoral candidate at Harvard and a recent graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she graduated with a 5.00 grade point average – the school’s highest possible score.
Her love of physics began when she was a child. At 12, when so many young girls are struggling with awkward feelings about themselves and their place in social grouping, Pasterski spent nearly two years building an airplane that she would later pilot herself, in a solo flight over Lake Michigan, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“When I was little, I was interested in aerospace. I wanted to build spacecraft,” she told the Chicago Tribune.” I was never that into sci-fi as much, because there's so much science fact that's so interesting.”
Though she’s been getting a lot of buzz, Pasterski told Fox News Latino she’s no longer interested in granting interviews. She said she instead needs to focus on her physics work.
The magazine Ozy called her this millennial’s “new Einstein” who “has the world of physics abuzz.”
“She’s exploring some of the most challenging and complex issues in physics, much as Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein did early in their careers,” the magazine said of Pasterski.
Initially Pasterski was waitlisted at MIT, but after two MIT professors saw a video of the plane she was building on YouTube, they ended up recruiting the “PhysicsGirl,” as Pasterski’s website is called.
In a recent interview with Chicago Tribune, Pasterski said about her initial rejection at MIT: “You can either take it as ‘Well, I'm not worthy of getting into MIT.’ (Or) ‘No, I am worthy of getting into MIT.’ I took it more as a motivation. I don't think I would have cared as much about doing well academically had it not been for the fact that I had something to prove. When you start seeing that people doubt you, you realize, ‘Hmm, maybe I need to do better.’”
She has been granted thousands of dollars from Hertz Foundation, named a “30 Under 30” by Forbes, a winner of the Steven P. Jobs Trust's Ozy "Rising Star" award, a Harvard Smith Fellow, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (reserve status) – to name a few.
The basis of her research is black holes, gravity and space time. A particular focus is trying to better understand “quantum gravity,” which seeks to explain the occurrence of gravity within the context of quantum mechanics. She has said she wants to send a human to Mars.
A bit of an adrenalin junkie, Pasterski told Chicago Tribune that, “A small airplane is wonderful for its view. (But) A motorcycle is great for its acceleration. A Cessna 150 is very similar to a motorcycle in that you can lean one way or the other to go that way. Every physicist should learn to ride a motorcycle. It gives one a certain physical intuition, as does flying a small airplane.”
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com and aerospace developer and manufacturer Blue Origin, has said to have promised Pasterski a job when she’s ready. Asked by e-mail recently whether his offer still stands, Bezos told OZY: “God, yes!”