Words: Elle Griffiths
While the lack of women in STEM careers is an ongoing concern, there’s one woman who is blazing a trail for all of us.
Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is a Harvard PhD candidate in Physics who has been compared to Albert Einstein, and counts Stephen Hawking as a fan of her work.
At just 23 years old, the Chicago born scientist works on string theory and high energy physics, which are some of the most challenging and complex issues in the field.
Pasterski’s research looks into black holes and the nature of gravity as well as space and time. And she’s clearly onto something, as her findings were recently cited by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
Discoveries in this area could dramatically change our understanding of the workings of the universe – much like both Hawking and Einstein’s work have done in the last 100 years.
The first woman to graduate top of her undergraduate class in Physics at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 20 years, Pasterski’s incredible mind was noticed early in life when she piqued the interest of professors by building a single engine plane herself, flying it solo at just 14.
“I couldn’t believe it,” recalls Peggy Udden, an executive secretary at MIT, “not only because she was so young, but a girl”.
The Cuban-American has also attracted the attention of NASA, who are keen to recruit the young woman at the first opportunity.
But even NASA might have some competition when it comes to poaching the brain-box as she is also reportedly being courted by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Aerospace giant Blue Origin, among others.
Despite the head-spinning job offers and attention, Pasterski keeps a relatively low profile and leads a quiet life.
She claims not to own a smartphone and is not on social media but keeps her physicsgirl.com website regularly updated.
While films such as Good Will Hunting and shows like The Big Bang Theory have long suggested the future of mathematical and scientific discovery would be male, Pasterski follows a long tradition of standout female scientists.
Marie S. Curie, the mother of modern physics, was the first Nobel Prize winning woman in the history of science.
Eat your heart out, Sheldon Cooper.
Images: Youtube/Rex Features