Lots of kids—and adults—dream about flying planes when they grow up. When she was 14, first-generation Cuban-American Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski took it a step further: she built her own.
As a high school student from Chicago, Illinois, Gonzalez Pasterski was a step ahead of the pack—in addition to building her own aircraft and earning her certification as a Light Sport Aircraft mechanic in the process, she was selected as a semifinalist for the U.S. Physics Team before she’d even turned 16. But when she got to MIT, Gonzalez Pasterski—who had clocked half a decade of experience as an aircraft engineer by the ripe old age of 17—decided she was so over engineering. Now a 23-year-old physics PhD candidate at Harvard University, Gonzalez Pasterski is being hailed as the next Einstein.
So what is Gonzalez Pasterski up to at Harvard? Oh, no big deal—just single-handedly deciphering the workings of quantum gravity, i.e. helping us understand the very fabric of the universe. In early 2016, a paper on black holes co-authored by Stephen Hawking cited three different papers by Gonzalez Pasterski; she was the only female scientist to have a single-author paper cited in Hawking’s work. Oh, and she still flies planes in her spare time.
Not too shabby for a millennial who doesn’t own a smartphone.
(image via Marie Claire)