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Dr. Audra Hernandez Appointed New Director of UW-Madison Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program

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Dr. Audra Hernandez has been appointed director of the McNair Scholars Program in the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement (DDEEA) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hernandez is a scientist, researcher, and administrator of
undergraduate research experiences for STEM students. Her background and contributions to developing a culture promoting graduate school and earning advanced degrees, according to a news rlease from the university, will assist the division in engaging students in high-impact learning practices, while also bridging the division’s work in STEM dialogues on local and national platforms.

“We are excited to bring her experience and expertise to our team as we move strategically toward thought leadership, engaging diversity and inclusion, cultivating leadership, and chronicling our commitment,” said Cheryl Gittens, Ed.D. and DDEEA Assistant Vice Provost, in a statement.

Hernandez was an assistant research scientist in the Department of Astronomy at UW-Madison. In August of 2011, she received her doctoral degree at the University of Florida and joined UW-Madison as a postdoctoral researcher. Her research interests include the physical conditions, dynamics, and formation of star-forming clouds within the Milky Way Galaxy.

Hernandez was promoted to her current position and awarded principal investigator status in 2015. As a first-generation college graduate and as a Chicana scientist, Hernandez strives to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in doctoral career tracks, especially within the STEM fields. Eager to serve as a strong leader and mentor, she became the director of the Wisconsin Astrophysics Research Experience for Undergraduates program in 2017.

With support from the National Science Foundation, Hernandez volunteered with UW-Madison’s Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program as a STEM Professional Advisor from 2014 to 2018. In 2016, she was selected as one of the 30 STEM professionals to attend the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americas in Science (SACNAS) Linton-Poodry Summer Leadership Institute.

Hernandez began her duties as McNair Scholars Program Director this week.