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Dr. Ethan Nelson'12 (right) and Dr. Laura Lins Nelson with their daughter Eleanor last November.
Dr. Ethan Nelson '12 (right) and his wife, Dr. Laura Lins Nelson, pose with their daughter, Eleanor. | Image: Courtesy photo.

Like rainfall in New Mexico, scholarships are a precious resource. For Department of Atmospheric Sciences former student and New Mexico native Ethan Nelson '12, it was that very resource that allowed him to attend Texas A&M University — an experience he credits for setting his course for success.

“Being an out-of-state student, I think having a scholarship from Texas A&M was really the only way I could go to school there,” he said. “To me, that small token from the university was very substantial because it enabled me to graduate debt-free. It helped me exponentially.”

That's why he and his wife, who also received a scholarship to attend Western Illinois University, have decided to provide that precious resource to one or more full-time undergraduate meteorology students by establishing the Ethan Nelson '12 and Laura Lins Nelson Endowed Scholarship in the Texas A&M College of Arts and Sciences.

Small Drop, Huge Impact

While Nelson is passionate about Texas A&M, his interest in the weather began many years before he ever stepped foot on campus.

“I realized I wanted to study meteorology while growing up in New Mexico,” he said. “It’s big sky country; you can see for miles. We would always have these big thunderstorms in the spring, and it was exciting to see this deluge of rain coming through and then clear skies 20 minutes later. The fact that the weather can change in a second and affect everyone drove me to want to better understand it.”

Gifts and the weather are similar in that way; a small change can have a huge impact.

The Big Picture

While studying at Texas A&M, Nelson was able to participate in undergraduate research projects that uncovered his passion for satellites — a passion that he further explored in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, studying how to use satellites to look at rain across the globe. In his capacity as a precipitation scientist at, he helps integrate satellite data into weather forecasts for the benefit of clients such as Fortune 500 companies, the U.S. Air Force and JetBlue.

“I love satellite meteorology,” he said. “We have a limited view of the world from down here. Looking down from above gives us an idea of the greater picture.”

For Nelson, that greater picture includes his wife Laura, a resident in orthopedic surgery, and their year-old daughter, who Nelson hopes will be an Aggie-in-training.

“My wife and I both have a giving mindset,” he said. “We just want to try to help others in any way we can.”

Shaping The Aggie Experience      

Nelson hopes his scholarship will help current and future Aggies focus more on enjoying their Texas A&M experience like he did and less on affording it. During his own student days, Nelson participated in research projects, attended as many football games as possible and was on the worship team at his church. In the midst of all that, he dabbled in student government, hoping to help shape the student experience — a hope that continues more than a decade later.

“I want to help ease the burden of college,” he said. “I had a lot of friends who had to grind to make it. Being able to ease that burden is so much more than just writing a check; it’s being able to help enrich their college experience.”

Nelson also wants to encourage other former students, no matter their age, to give back.

“It’s never too soon to help a student,” he said. “And no gift is ever too small.”

How To Give

To learn more about funding scholarships and helping students reach their full academic potential, please contact our development team