By: Carla Pineda
Without any college credits under her belt or a “safety school” or backup plan, 16-year-old Sabrina González Pasterski applied to Harvard and MIT’s early admission programs. Both rejected her. But this was just a bump in the road of the young physicist’s career path, which has been the least bit linear or traditional. She picked up and moved to Cambridge anyway, as she was offered jobs by a Harvard professor who knew about her impressive resume. Within weeks, she was admitted to MIT.
González Pasterski, a Cuban-American who humbly brags about her perfect attendance from kindergarten through senior year at MIT, was born and raised in Chicago. She started flying at 9 years old and by the time she was 14, she had built her own plane and flown it solo. Although she spent her teen years fascinated with aerospace, she found a love for the science of space and time behind the flight while she studied at MIT.
As a Harvard PhD candidate, González Pasterski now studies some of the most complex theories in physics, following in the footsteps of some of the most brilliant minds, such as Stephen Hawkins (who has cited her) and Albert Einstein (who she is often compared to). Though her simple website is up to date with her latest appearances, honors and mentions — which casually include her appearance on PBS News Hour for International Women’s Day and the Italian edition of Marie Claire — and she is promoted across social media by the likes of George Takei, the scientist does not have a social media presence nor a smartphone.
As someone who prides herself on “spotting elegance within the chaos” of physics, and perhaps in life, she wears simple black Louboutins at major talks and is working hard to earn the praise that she says she has received prematurely. In the meantime, aerospace company Blue Origin, has a job offer waiting for her whenever she’s ready and scientists worldwide are keeping an eye out for this Latina’s next move.