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In 1933, Ruth Ella Moore Became The First Black Woman To Get PhD In Natural Sciences

Dr Ruth Ella Moore


In 1933, Dr. Ruth Ella Moore became the first African-American woman in the United States to receive a Ph.D. in natural sciences. This achievement came at a period when many women were hesitant to pursue higher study in natural sciences.


Professor Moore’s dissertation at Ohio State University was on TB. According to Ohio State University, her research was critical in comprehending the health effects of bacteriology TB on American society.

At the time of her investigation, tuberculosis was the second leading cause of death in the United States, with a treatment yet a decade away. Her work paved the door for the treatment of tuberculosis. Dr. Hildrus A. Poindexter, an African-American microbiologist, encouraged her to join his team at Howard University Medical School.

When she was brought in to help with the restoration of the pre-clinical section, she quickly learned the ins and outs of the job. Professor Moore was forced to take over the department after Dr. Poindexter was called up for military service during World War II.

She served as acting head of the Department of Bacteriology until 1955, when she was appointed to unit head. She was the first woman to lead the department at Howard University. Dr. Moore contributed to research on blood types, dental caries, immunology, and other analyses of specific microorganisms to distinct antibiotic classes.

She broke new ground in her work as a bacteriologist and became the first African-American woman to become a member of the American Society for Microbiology. Many scientific journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, published Professor Moore’s study.

In 1903 she was born in Columbus. Her mother played an important role in her academic success. Her mother was an artist and seamstress who was one of the numerous African-American business owners in the Midwestern center. She taught Moore how to sew while also ensuring that her education was a key concern, with a focus on higher education.

She had a good sense of design and wore largely handcrafted fashionable stuff. In 2009, the Ohio State Historic Costume and Textile Collection display celebrated her fashion sense. Prof. Moore accepted a teaching job at Tennessee State College in Nashville after finishing her bachelor’s degree to help pay for her school. She returned to Ohio State University in 1933 to finish her Ph.D. in Bacteriology.

Despite retiring as department head in 1960, she offered her knowledge to the university until she hung her boots in 1971. During her time as a teacher, she also mentored several students. Professor Moore was also an important member of the league of scholars in her profession.


Written by How Africa News

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