July 23, 2024

The Brilliant Physicist Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

We know that women in science are largely underrepresented and underappreciated. Yet, their contributions to science, technology, and society are undeniable. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is no exception to this pattern.

At the young age of 26, Pasterski is considered one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists (WHYY, 2020). In 2012, she was named to Scientific American’s 30 under 30 list and, in 2015, she was named to Forbes magazine’s annual 30 under 30 listing (Harvard University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 2015). Pasterski has continuously been recognized for her well-respected work in physics and her promising research in high energy theoretical physics (Harvard University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 2015). Pasterski hope to transform the world we live in as she believes that the kind of physics she studies has the potential to, “create undreamed of advances” (Harvard University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 2015). It is safe to say that, at least partially, her confidence and drive can be attributed to her success. Pasterski does not believe in limits to what is achievable and views the “impossible” as a challenge (Harvard University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, 2015). Thus, it is no surprise that she has been compared to the likes of the famous Albert Einstein (Singh, 2017).

Pasterski started showing interest in physics as a nine year old in Chicago, when she rode in an airplane for the first time (WHYY, 2020). That experience led to her fascination with the workings and mechanisms behind aerospace which she did not cease to pursue. As a ten year old, she rebuilt an airplane engine (WHYY, 2020). By age 12 she had built an entire airplane and at age 14 she took her accomplishment for a test flight, making her the youngest person to fly their own plane (WHYY, 2020; Singh, 2017). To say the least, this was very impressive to professors at MIT and contributed to her acceptance as an undergrad in 2010 (Singh, 2017). At MIT, she was the first girl to win the MIT Physics Orloff Scholarship award (Singh, 2017). Afterwards, she went on to earn her PhD high energy physics from Harvard University (Elkus). During her time at Harvard, Pasterski was part of the discovery of the “spin memory effect” and has been credited in several published papers (Elkus). One of her most well-known works is an individual paper published in 2015 about “the Pasterski-Strominger-Zhiboedov Triangle in Electromagnetic Memory” which was later cited by Stephen Hawking in 2016 (Elkus). Currently, Pasterski is continuing her research at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science (Berbari, 2020).

Pasterski’s contributions to science have been confirmed by the job offers she has received from NASA and Blue Origin, and by the enormous amounts of money she has been granted to continue her research (Reichard, 2017). As a proud, first generation Cuban-American, Pasterski’s work in physics and impact in the world is very inspiring to young Latinx girls and women (WHYY, 2020). She is an advocate for STEM and science education for girls, with a special focus on girls belonging to marginalized groups (WHYY, 2020). Pasterski’s association with the Let Girls Learn initiative has been acknowledged on a national and global scale (Elkus). Despite her disbelief in the idea of the “impossible”, it really is impossible to discredit the colossal strides that Pasterski is making in today’s world.



30 Under Thirty. (2015, June 19). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://gsas.harvard.edu/news/stories/30-under-thirty

Berbari, G. (2020, July 19). At 22, this millennial was called the next Einstein. What’s she up to today? Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.considerable.com/life/education/sabrina-paterski/

Elkus, H. (n.d.). Sabrina Gonzalez: Helena Member. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://helena.org/member/sabrina-gonzalez-pasterski

Reichard, R. (2017, September 28). 10 Latinas Making Their Mark in the STEM World. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://remezcla.com/lists/culture/latinas-stem-science-technology-engineering-mathematics/

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. (2020, April 06). Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://whyy.org/episodes/sabrina-gonzalez-pasterski/

Singh, A. (2017, October 10). Meet The Harvard Graduate: The Next Einstein In Making. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.ndtv.com/education/meet-the-harvard-graduate-the-next-einstein-in-making-1760990#:~:text=She spent three years at,her doctorate at Harvard University

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