Dr. Ruth Moore

February 15, 2022

Dr. Ruth Moore

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Dr. Ruth Moore
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We, the Department of Microbiology within the College of Arts and Sciences, honor the legacy of our alumnus Dr. Ruth Moore, the first African American in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in microbiology and the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in any field of biological sciences. Dr. Moore was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and completed her B.S. (1926), M.S. (1927), and Ph.D. (1933) degrees here at OSU. She was one of only five students to obtain a doctorate in the Department (then Bacteriology) from 1925 to 1940. Her dissertation was published in two parts: Studies on Dissociation of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, and A New Method of Concentration of the Tubercle Bacilli as Applied to Sputum and Urine Examination. Interestingly, Dr. Moore was also a successful fashion designer, having been trained at the Columbus College of Art and Design and having several designs featured in The Sewer’s Art: Quality, Fashion and Economy.  

Dr. Moore broke multiple barriers simultaneously, including gender and racial discrimination, prevalent in United States academia at the time. Upon graduation, she was hired at Howard University Medical School and soon became a leader, serving as Chair of the Department of Bacteriology from 1945 to 1960. She was the first female department head at Howard University and one of the first women to head a science department in the United States. She changed the face of scientific research in this country and made important contributions to our understanding of tuberculosis, immunology, dental disease, and microbiome communities of the Death’s Head cockroach. She received the Centennial Medallion for Distinguished Alumni from OSU in 1970 for her many accomplishments and continued service to this university. Read more