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Claude Onizuka, Carl McNair and Harriet Natsuyama

ʻOhana Roots to Rocket Science, a project of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s McNair Student Achievement Program, presents a week of events focused on space science and diversity.

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. They have championed their astronaut brothers as role models and have encouraged students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter academic programs in science, technology, engineering and math.

In addition, Oʻahu born astrophysicist 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.

School visits

To kick off the week of events, McNair and Onizuka will visit two schools on Tuesday, March 6.

  • McNair will talk with grade school students at Kamehameha Schools, where curriculum has included Ron’s Big Mission, the children’s book about McNair coming of age in the segregated South of the 1960’s.
  • Onizuka will visit the Challenger Center Hawaiʻi located at Barbers Point Elementary. Onizuka will talk about his brother’s success in science and technology.

Public talks

Carl McNair and Claude Onizuka

Thursday, March 8, reception at 5:30 p.m. and lecture at 6:30 p.m. at Mānoa’s Architecture Auditorium, free to the public

McNair and Onizuka will share stories about their respective brothers’ rise from humble roots to eminent careers in science and service to NASA, where they also broke barriers of race. Ronald McNair, a researcher in laser physics, was the second African-American astronaut. Ellison Onizuka, who was recognized for exceptional service with the U.S. Air Force, was the first Japanese-American astronaut.

Harriet Natsuyama

Wednesday, March 7, reception at 6 p.m. and lecture at 6:30 p.m., Hōkūlani Imaginarium at Windward Community College, free but reservations are required due to limited seating, email for reservations

Natsuyama, UH Mānoa Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, will trace changes in worldview from ancient to modern societies in her talk, Ancient Star Wisdom and New Horizons. She will discuss bridging ancient people’s knowledge of voyaging by the stars and modern findings of quantum physics.

Read the news release for details.

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