Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is an American physicist from Chicago, Illinois who describes herself as "a proud first-generation Cuban-American & Chicago Public Schools alumna." She completed her undergraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is currently a graduate student at Harvard University. She is studying string theory and high energy physics. She has advanced the understanding of gravitational memories. She is best known for connecting various ideas together with her concept of "the Triangle." She has received job offers from Blue Origin, an aerospace company founded by Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Early life and education
Pasterski was born in Chicago on June 3, 1993. She enrolled at the Edison Regional Gifted Center in 1998. She took her first flying lesson in 2003, had co-piloted FAA1 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh by 2005 and had started building a kit aircraft by 2006. She soloed her Cessna 150 in Canada in 2007 and certified her aircraft as airworthy in 2008. (MIT assisted with the certification of the single-engine airplane she had built from a kit.) Her first U.S. solo flight was in that kit aircraft in 2009 after being signed off by her CFI Jay Maynard. She graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in 2010. Jeff Bezos drew her into physics. Her scientific heroes include Leon Lederman, Dudley Herschbach, and Freeman Dyson.
Before focusing on high energy theory, Pasterski worked on the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. At 21, Pasterski introduced Harvard to "the Triangle" and "Spin Memory", and completed "the Triangle" for EM during an invited talk at MIT's Center for Theoretical Physics. (This has formed the basis for several other works with one 2015 paper describing it as "a recently discovered universal triangle connecting soft theorems, symmetries and memory in gauge and gravitational theories.") At 22, she spoke at a Harvard Faculty Conference about whether or not those concepts should be applied to black hole hair and discussed her new method for detecting gravitational waves.
In early 2016, a paper by Stephen Hawking, Malcolm J. Perry, and Andrew Strominger (Pasterski's doctoral advisor of whom she was working independently at the time) entitled "Soft Hair on Black Holes" cited a dozen single-author papers from eleven males and one female: Sabrina Pasterski. This resulted in extensive media coverage after its appearance on the arXiv and in the days leading up to it.
Awards and honors
- 2010, Illinois Aviation Trades Association Industry Achievement Award
- 2012, Scientific American 30 under 30
- 2012, Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Young Researcher
- 2013, MIT Physics Department Orloff Scholarship Award
- 2015, Forbes 30 under 30
- 2015, Hertz Foundation Fellowship
Shortly after the 2016 Hawking paper was released, actor George Takei (Hikaru Sulu) introduced Pasterski to his nearly 2 million Twitter followers with this quotation: "'Hopefully I'm known for what I do and not what I don't do.' A poignant sentiment." The Steven P. Jobs Trust article he included in the tweet has been shared over 527,000 times. International coverage of the paper and Pasterski's work subsequently appeared in Russia Today, Poland's Angora newspaper and DNES in the Czech Republic. Also in 2016, rapper Chris Brown posted a page with a video promoting Pasterski. Forbes and The History Channel ran stories about Pasterski for their audiences in Mexico and Latin America respectively. People en Español, one of the most widely read Spanish language magazines, featured Pasterski in their April 2016 print edition.