Sabrina Pasterski built and flew her first plane at 14, graduated from MIT and is a prime candidate to complete her PhD at Harvard.
Now at 23, she is exploring the complexity of black holes, gravity and space-time much like her predecessors Albert Einstein (whose theory of relativity turns 102 this year) and Stephen Hawking did early on in their careers.
Her chosen area of study delves into the world of “quantum gravity.” A topic which could dramatically change how we view life, the universe and everything.
At 23 years old, Pasterski has been granted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Hertz Foundation, the Smith Foundation and the National Science Foundation and has received the highest praise from her Harvard professor Andrew Strominger who has just published a paper with physics God- Stephen Hawking.
Watch: Sabrina Pasterski build an aeroplane for her father.
A first generation Cuban-American raised in the suburbs of Chicago, she loves taking on new and complex challenges:
“Years of pushing the bounds of what I could achieve led me to physics.” Initially put on a waitlist for MIT, Professors Allen Haggerty and Earl Murman described her potential as “off the charts” and made sure she was accepted into the prestigious University. Haggerty and Murman were proved right when Pasterski graduated from MIT with the school’s highest grade point average.
Pasterski lives a strict life for a 22-year-old. With only a small group of close friends, she admits to never having a boyfriend, never drinking any alcohol and never smoking a day in her life. She admits “I’d rather stay alerted, and hopefully I’m known for what I do and not what I don’t do.”
While many, including her Harvard professor, have predicted her success, Pasterski is taking it all in stride:
“A theorist saying he will figure out something in particular over a long time frame almost guarantees that he will not do it.”
And fair enough, finding a job after University is a challenging process for most science grads with 30 percent of physics and chemistry post-doctorates are unemployed. But Pasterski appears un-phased:
“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.”
We may have a new GENIUS on our hands.
Header: Sabrina Pasterski, 22, of Chicago is pursuing her doctorate in theoretical high energy physics at Harvard. (Image by Michael Noble Jr. / Chicago Tribune)