McNair Fellows Program
Ronald E. McNair Biography
Dr. McNair was born on October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He attended North Carolina A&T State University where he graduated with a B.S. degree in Physics in 1971. Dr. McNair proceeded to earn his Ph.D in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) assigned Dr. McNair, the second African American to participate in space flight, as a mission specialist aboard the 1984 flight shuttle Challenger. On January 28, 1986, Dr. McNair and his fellow astronauts perished when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The U.S. Federal Government instituted a program to prepare low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students for doctoral study and named it in his honor for his outstanding community and scholarly achievements.