Celebrating Black History Month - Ruth Ella Moore

Ruth Ella Moore
February 22, 2021

Ruth Ella Moore, Ph.D. (1903-1994) was a bacteriologist known for her work on blood types, tuberculosis, tooth decay, and gut microorganisms. She completed her dissertation work on tuberculosis at Ohio State University in 1933, becoming the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in the natural sciences.

After earning her Ph.D. in bacteriology Moore became an assistant professor at Howard University, where she was later appointed the head of the bacteriology department. This appointment made Moore the first woman to head any department at Howard. The research she conducted on African-American blood types and later on the reaction of different gut microorganisms to antibiotics has had significant impacts on public health. During her career Moore was a member of several scientific associations and societies, and was the first Black member of the American Society of Microbiology.

Moore was also an accomplished seamstress and garment designer. Her garments have been exhibited at Ohio State University where she earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Moore was also awarded two honorary degrees from Oberlin College and Gettysburg University around the time of her retirement from Howard University in 1973.

By Melanie Reschke