Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center

McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program is embedded within the UROC Scholars program and prepares academically-talented and motivated CSUMB undergraduates from all majors for doctoral level studies via engagement in research and other scholarly activities that support the successful transition to graduate programs.

The McNair Scholars Program is supported by the Department of Education and established in memory of Dr. Ronald E. McNair, a physicist and NASA astronaut who served on the Challenger space shuttle.

The McNair Program is for students who:

  • Enjoy being part of a student cohort striving for graduate degrees.
  • Strive for intensive research experiences.
  • Dedicate themselves to scholarship, leadership, and high-achievement.
  • Commit to pursuing a Ph.D. in a research-focused graduate program.
McNair Scholar Alumni Juan Cerda and Jada Carter with Dr. Corin White (center)
Dr. Corin White (center) with McNair Scholar Alum Juan Cerda and Jada Carter at 2019 SACNAS Conference
Sebastian Mireles during class
Sebastian Mireles in class
McNair Students at End of Year Holiday Dinner Celebration
2018 McNair Students at End of Year Holiday Dinner Celebration

Current McNair Scholars

  • Serena Ross, Psychology. Research Mentor: Renee Penalver, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department
  • Jissel Antonio, Human Communication. 
  • Rosa Acevedo Duran, Psychology. 
  • Kimmy Smith, Collaborative Health and Human Services. Research Mentor: Jennifer Lovell, Associate Professor, Psychology
  • Angelica May Amita, Business Administration. Research Mentor: Jenny Lin, Associate Professor, School of Business
  • Jocelyn Chavez-Diaz, Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures. Research Mentor: Kelly Medina-Lopez, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Communication
  • Robert May, Molecular Biology. Research Mentor: Aparna Sreenivasan, Professor, Biology & Chemistry


  • Discipline-specific faculty mentoring
  • Comprehensive research seminar
  • $2800 annual research scholarship
  • National recognition
  • Graduate school preparation and funding advisement
  • GRE fee reduction waivers and GRE preparation workshops including study materials
  • Travel support to present research at nationally recognized research conferences
  • Supportive network of McNair Scholars
  • Graduate programs/schools visits
  • Opportunity to publish in peer-reviewed journals
  • Participation in cultural events and social gatherings


  • Strong academic records (recommended minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA)
  • U.S. citizenship or U.S. permanent residency
  • Be either a first-generation & low-income college student or belong to a group traditionally underrepresented in higher education
Ronald E. McNair, African American Astronaut
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Who was Ronald McNair?

Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair was an American NASA astronaut and physicist who died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. Growing up in a low-income community in South Carolina, McNair overcame obstacle after obstacle ultimately being selected as one of 35 new astronauts from 8,000 applicants in 1978. He was also one of just three African Americans selected, which included Col. Guion Bluford, the first African American to travel in space. McNair would become the second African American to fly in space in 1984. McNair was also an accomplished saxophonist and even played while in space.

Following his death, members of Congress provided funding to create the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program. It is intended to encourage students who come from low-income, first-generation college backgrounds, or are members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education to pursue doctoral level students through involvement in research and other scholarly activity.