McNair program to host week of space science, diversity events

Will include lectures by brothers of astronauts Ronald McNair and Ellison Onizuka

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Mar 1, 2012

“‘Ohana Roots to Rocket Science,” a project of UH Mānoa’s McNair Student Achievement Program, presents a week of events focused on space science and diversity. For the first time ever on the same stage, Carl McNair and Claude Onizuka will celebrate the heroic legacies of their respective brothers, Ronald McNair and Ellison Onizuka, NASA astronauts who perished in the 1986 Challenger mission. In addition, O‘ahu-born astrophysicist Dr. Harriet Natsuyama, whose expertise spans computer modeling and applied mathematics as well as ancient systems of astronomy, will deliver a lecture on evolving perspectives of cosmology and consciousness.
To kick off the week of events, McNair and Onizuka will also visit two schools on Tuesday, March 6. McNair will visit with grade school students at Kamehameha Schools, where curriculum has included Ron’s Big Mission, the children’s book about Ron McNair’s coming of age in the segregated South of the 1960’s. Onizuka will visit the Challenger Center Hawai‘i located at Barbers Point Elementary. Established by the families of astronauts lost in the Challenger disaster, the center hosts a NASA learning center with a spaceflight simulator for children. Onizuka will meet with youngsters to talk about his brother’s success in science and technology.
Astronaut kin to highlight soaring legacies in space exploration
Free to the public
Thursday, March 8, reception at 5:30 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Architecture Auditorium on UH Mānoa campus
Parking on University Avenue or at the School of Architecture
McNair and Onizuka will share stories about their respective brothers’ rise from humble roots to eminent careers in science and service to the NASA space program, where they also broke barriers of race. From Lake City, South Carolina, Ronald McNair became the second African-American astronaut; from Kealakekua, Hawai’i, Ellison Onizuka was the first Japanese-American astronaut. McNair, who held a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made his mark as a researcher in laser physics and flew his first NASA mission as a crewmember on board the 1984 NASA space shuttle mission that launched a $75 million communications satellite. Ellison Onizuka, who received a Masters of Science from the University of Colorado, was recognized for exceptional service with the U.S. Air Force, and went on his first astronaut mission in 1985 aboard the Department of Defense STS 51C that orbited Earth 48 times.
The survivor brothers have championed their astronaut kin as role models by delivering inspirational talks encouraging students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter academic programs and careers in science, technology, engineering and math or STEM, as these disciplines are collectively named.  McNair and Onizuka have been working on numerous projects to increase diversity in STEM. McNair founded and directs a non-profit science education organization named for his late brother. Onizuka was instrumental in establishing an aviation and space exploration museum at the Kona airport that pays tribute to Ellison Onizuka and space science.  
Dr. Paul Coleman with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Institute for Astronomy (IFA) will also highlight recent space science discoveries at the observatories of Mauna Kea.
Local-born astrophysicist presents cosmology through a pono lens
Free lecture by reservation ONLY due to limited seating
Email reservations request to:
Wednesday, March 7, reception at 6:00 p.m., lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Hokulani Imaginarium at Windward Community College in Kāne‘ohe
Harriet Natsuyama will trace changes in worldview from ancient to modern societies. Natsuyama’s presentation, titled “Ancient Star Wisdom and New Horizons,” will elucidate connections in bridging ancient people’s knowledge of voyaging by the stars and modern findings of quantum physics. A Honolulu native, Natsuyama earned a doctorate in astrophysics from Japan’s Kyoto University and holds degrees in mathematics and physics from UH Mānoa as well as the Distinguished Alumni Award from UH. Her experience includes working in research for the RAND Corp., performing engineering at Hughes Aircraft Co., and holding the chair of the Rockwell International Professor of Systems Engineering of California State University. She served as national president of Graduate Women in Science and established the Pacific regional chapter.