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30 under 30: A Teenage Pilot and Aspiring Physicist

Meet Sabrina Pasterski, 19, one of the up-and-coming physicists attending this year's Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
American undergraduate physicist and pilot Sabrina Pasterski



Courtesy Sabrina Pasterski

The annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting brings a wealth of scientific minds to the shores of Germany’s Lake Constance. Every summer at Lindau, dozens of Nobel Prize winners exchange ideas with hundreds of young researchers from around the world. Whereas the Nobelists are the marquee names, the younger contingent is an accomplished group in its own right. In advance of this year’s meeting, which focuses on physics, we are profiling several promising attendees under the age of 30. The profile below is the third in a series of 30.

Current position: Sophomore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Education: Diploma from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

What is your field of research?
The CMS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Who drew you to physics?
Jeff Bezos.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
On the cover of Scientific American!

Who are your scientific heroes?
Leon Lederman, Dudley Herschbach and Freeman Dyson.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
I am new to physics, having been raised an engineer. Since I will apply to graduate Ph.D. physics programs this coming fall, I will have to decide the research field and topic for my thesis. What better sounding board than 28 Nobel Laureates gathered on a beautiful island, ready, willing and able to help an aspiring physicist chart her course.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet or learn from at Lindau?
Carlo Rubbia. Like me, he was initially denied admission to his dream school before a slot opened up, giving him the chance to pursue physics over engineering. I applied only to Harvard and M.I.T., which I had wanted to attend since 4th grade. I was rejected by both, then selected off M.I.T.'s wait list. I can’t wait to meet Robert Laughlin. He built a TV from a Heathkit as a child, studied engineering in college, then switched to physics. Building an airplane from a kit and flying as a child, I longed to understand the physics, application and reach of flight.

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2. Andrew McCulloch
30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
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4. Eldad Kepten

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