OhioRuth Ella Moore was born May 19, 1903, in Columbus, Ohio. There is very little information available about her early life but Moore was destined to be a great symbol of pride and determination for the Black community throughout the U.S. and the world.
EducationFor both her undergraduate and graduate programs, Moore attended Ohio State University. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1926. Just one year later, in 1927, she earned her Master of Science degree. By 1933, Moore made history, becoming the first Black woman to earn her Ph.D. in a natural science. She became the first Black woman bacteriologist. Moore wrote her dissertation on the Tuberculosis bacteria. Her dissertations were titled, “Studies on Dissociation of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis” and “A New Method of Concentration on the Tubercule Bacilli as Applied to Sputum and Urine Examination.”
CareerMoore’s career began while she was in graduate school. She worked at Tennessee State College (now Tennessee State University), teaching hygiene and English. Her paper on the immunology of dental caries was published in 1938. By 1939, she had become the assistant professor of bacteriology at Howard University College of Medicine. Throughout the 1950s, Moore published more essays, most of which covered the different blood types in the Black community. By 1955, Moore was named Head of the Department of Bacteriology. She was then promoted to the rank of associate professor of microbiology in 1960 and in 1963, she published an essay on the sensitivity of stomach microorganisms to antibiotics.
LegacyBy the early 1970s, she retired but still held the position of associate professor emeritus of microbiology. Ruth Ella Moore died in Rockville, Maryland in 1994. She was 91 years old. In addition to being the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in a natural science, she–along with other scientists–was recognized in 2005 by the U.S. for her contribution to medicine.
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