Aerospace engineering student wins prestigious Churchill Scholarship

Published: Jan 22, 2024 1:30 PM

By Wade Berry

Maggie Nelson is Auburn University's first Churchill Scholarship recipient.

Nelson, a senior from Birmingham in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, is headed to Churchill College at the University of Cambridge this fall to work toward her MPhil in materials science and metallurgy. 

In addition to her aerospace engineering degree from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Nelson, an Honors College student, will graduate with minors in materials engineering, philosophy, and sustainability studies in the College of Liberal Arts

The Churchill Scholarship is the latest of several awards Nelson has achieved at Auburn. She has also won two Astronaut Scholar Awards, the German Exchange DAAD RISE Award and the Barry M. Goldwater Award

"It feels like a little much, but I'm honored and thankful," Nelson said. "I would like to thank all the people who supported me through my undergraduate journey at Auburn. Winning these awards is a testament to building a tolerance for failure, but I'm always trying."

Brian Thurow, chair of the Department of Aerospace Engineering said Nelson's work ethic is unquestionable and personifies what it means to be an Auburn student. 

"Maggie is the personification of the Auburn Creed, particularly where it reads, 'I believe in work, hard work,’" Thurow said. "While her performance in the classroom has been truly outstanding, we have always emphasized the importance of quality experiences outside of the classroom. This is where I think Maggie has truly shined." 

While at Cambridge, Nelson will research ways of improving the efficiency of solar energy cells in interior light. She hopes to apply this knowledge to earth and space-based solutions for sustainable energy production. 

The Churchill Scholarship is an annual award given to only 16 students in the U.S. to study at Churchill College in Cambridge. The scholarship is regarded as one of the nation's most prestigious awards.   

Established at the request of Sir Winston Churchill as part of the founding of Churchill College. The Churchill Scholarship fulfills his vision of deepening the US–UK partnership to advance science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, ensuring our future prosperity and security.  


Media Contact: Wade Berry ,,
woman stands in lab

Maggie Nelson is Auburn University's first Churchill Scholarship recipient.

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