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The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh will receive $220,000 per year for the next five years from the state Department of Education for the Ronald McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program.

The program seeks students who are first-generation college students, low-income and/or from underrepresented groups in order to prepare them for graduate doctoral studies.

Mary Seaman from the Department of Biology/Microbiology is the project director and Christine Prange is the project assistant.

There were 306 proposals submitted nationwide and approximately 134 proposals were accepted; UW Oshkosh was one of those proposals.

The goal of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program goal is to enroll 25 UW Oshkosh undergraduates and afford them with the research groundwork necessary for doctoral studies. The preparation for an advanced degree will include pairing each undergraduate with a faculty mentor who will assist the student in designing and implementing a research project.  The student will complete an eight-week, research intensive program culminating by means of a poster and oral presentation with the potential for a publication. Students accepted into the program will also be involved in seminars and workshops in order to enhance their oral and written communication skills; receive academic tutoring and academic and career guidance; attend workshops to prepare them for the GRE and the application process; and visit graduate schools.

Eligible students must meet the following criteria by being:

  • Motivated and disciplined undergraduates interested in pursuing a PhD
  • College-level rising juniors and seniors in good academic standing
  • Citizens and/or permanent legal residents of the U.S.
  • First-generation college students with demonstrated financial need
  • African-American, Latino/Latina-American, Native-American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander students and those historically underrepresented at the graduate level.


The program was named after Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. He was born Oct. 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina.  In 1971 he attended North Carolina A&T State University and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics. In 1976, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with a Ph.D. in laser physics. McNair soon became a recognized expert in laser physics while working as a staff physicist with Hughes Research Laboratory.

He was selected by NASA for the space shuttle program in January 1978 and was a mission specialist aboard the January 1986 flight of the Space Shuttle US Challenger. After his death in the US Challenger space shuttle accident in January 1986, members of Congress provided funding for the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program to encourage income eligible and first generation college students, and students from groups historically underrepresented in graduate school to expand their educational opportunities and to pursue graduate studies. This program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Students looking for more information about eligibility and how to apply can contact Mary Seaman at or Christine Prange at  Applications are also available on the McNair Facebook page, the McNair website or at the McNair offices located at Halsey 160 and 161.

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