Ruth Ella Moore inducted into Office of Diversity and Inclusion Hall of Fame

Public health and Buckeye legacy honored for her contributions

July 2, 2021
Ruth Ella Moore

Ohio State alumna Ruth Ella Moore 1926 BS, '27 MA, '33 PhD was inducted into the Ohio State Office of Diversity and Inclusion Hall of Fame last week as one of 10 inaugural honorees.

Moore (1903-1994) was the first Black American woman to earn a PhD in the natural sciences, delivering her doctoral dissertation at Ohio State on the bacteriology of tuberculosis. Though Ohio State didn’t have a College of Public Health in 1933, bacteriology was — from the mid-1910s through World War II — the foundational science of public health research and practice. The College of Public Health Alumni Society nominated Moore for the induction. 

A lifelong public health practitioner and leader in her discipline, Moore’s work contributed to the understanding and decline of tuberculosis in the U.S., and she went on to make further scientific breakthroughs studying blood types, antibiotics and tooth decay. In 1952, she made history once more after becoming the first woman to head a department at Howard University, where she led the Department of Bacteriology. She was also the first Black person to join the American Society for Microbiology. 


In addition to her numerous accomplishments in science and public health, Moore was an inspired mentor and teacher, as well as a talented seamstress. She received her love of fashion from her mother, a successful artist who trained at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Several of Moore’s garments were featured in The Sewer’s Art: Quality, Fashion and Economy.

Today, Moore’s spirit lives on in the College of Public Health Ruth Ella Moore First Generation Student Scholarship, which will provide one or more scholarships to students who are first-generation or trailblazing in their educational pursuits. It was created to support those students who have overcome substantial educational or economic obstacles.

“What relevance does Ruth Ella Moore have for students in public health today? Well, there’s not only the work that she did as a microbiologist, a bacteriologist, that continues to be relevant as we fight the global scourge of tuberculosis, but there’s also her impact as a trailblazer,” said Dean Amy Fairchild.

“So we’ve created the Ruth Ella Moore scholarship for trailblazers, and we’re focusing that effort on first-generation students … who are coming from populations that haven’t often been represented in the leadership fields of public health.”

Fundraising efforts are underway to ensure the Ruth Ella Moore scholarship fund is replenished year after year. If you’d like to contribute to this effort, please click here. 

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About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond.  The College's divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy.   It is ranked 24th among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report, and also includes the top 7-ranked MHA degree program.  The College provides leadership and expertise for Ohio and the world through its Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Evaluation Studies (HOPES) and Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP).