Who is Ronald E. McNair?


Doctor Ronald E. McNair

In 1989 the U.S. Congress funded a Department of Education TRIO program in commemoration of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, an African-American laser physicist and astronaut killed in the Challenger explosion.




Devoted to science, McNair grew up impoverished in South Carolina, facing social and economic barriers to higher education. McNair worked diligently to earn his B. S. in physics from North Carolina A&T University and then his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work at Hughes Research Laboratory and his expertise as a laser physicist led to three honorary doctorates and several awards and fellowships. Click here for more

The McNair Scholars Program honors his memory and his dedicated pursuit of scientific knowledge and personal excellence. Since inception of the program over 179 undergraduate institutions have received funding for McNair Scholars programs.