Ronald McNair - the namesake of the McNair Scholars Program

Originally posted on PhD Balance social media platforms on 02/20/2020.


The namesake of the McNair Scholars program: Ronald McNair (1950 - 1986)


Picture of Ronald McNair in his NASA uniform.

Ronald McNair earned his PhD from MIT in 1976 with a dissertation on laser physics.


Before becoming a NASA astronaut and the second African American to fly in space, he worked at the Hughes Research Laboratory, was named a Presidential Scholar, a Ford Foundation Fellow, a National Fellowship Fund Fellow, and a NATO Fellow. His hobbies included playing the saxophone and karate.


He died when the U.S Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986.


After his death, Congress provided funds for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage low-income and first-generation college students to enroll in PhD programs and pursue academic careers.


Are you or someone you know a McNair scholar?