Dr. Ronald E McNair was an African American physicist and astronaut. In February 1984, he became the second African American to reach space as a mission specialist aboard Challenger mission STS-41-B. On January 28, 1986, he was among the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
Dr. McNair graduated Magna cum laude with his B.S. in physics from North Carolina A&T State University in 1971. He later earned his Ph.D. in laser physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. In addition to his academic achievements, Dr. McNair received three honorary doctorate degrees and numerous fellowships and commendations.
In his honor, Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program to encourage college students with backgrounds similar to Dr. McNair's to enroll in graduate studies. Thus, the program encourages minority, low-income, and first-generation college students to expand their educational opportunities and pursue graduate studies.