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Margaret “Maggie” Nelson, junior in aerospace engineering, reaches for the stars. Literally and figuratively.

As an aerospace engineering student, Nelson has always loved the idea of being an astronaut. She has another passion, however: sustainability. At Auburn, she has found a way to combine the two. When she’s not in class, Nelson is in the Gavin Research Laboratory for at least 35 hours a week, pursuing research on the recyclability of shape memory polymers using polystyrene from old CD cases.

Nelson was recently selected for the Astronaut Scholar Award by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The award includes a paid trip to Orlando, Florida for the Innovators Gala; an opportunity to present her research at the Scholar Technical Conference; personal mentoring by a scholar alumni, C-suite executive or an astronaut; an opportunity to participate in the Michael Collins Family Professional Development Program; and membership in the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society. Additionally, Nelson will have the opportunity to receive a scholarship of up to $15,000.