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Willie Hobbs Moore

February 3, 2017

The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore.

willie hobbs mooreWillie Hobbs Moore was born on May 23, 1934 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from any American university. In 1954 she began her studies in the college of engineering at the University of Michigan. This was the same year that the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas was decided by the US Supreme court. She would go on to earn three degrees from Michigan: a BS in 1958, a masters in 1961 and the Ph.D. in Physics in 1972, this last making her the very first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics. Dr. Moore’s doctorate was completed under the direction of the renowned infrared spectroscopist, Dr. Samuel Krimm. Her dissertation was entitled “A Vibrational Analysis of Secondary Chlorides”, and it focused on a theoretical analysis of the secondary chlorides for polyvinyl-chlorine polymers. From 1972--1977, she, Krimm, and collaborators published more than thirty papers on this and related research issues. Dr. Moore held engineering positions at Bendix Aerospace Systems Division, Barnes Engineering Company, and Sensor Dynamics Inc. and later became an executive with Ford Motor Company, working with the warranty department of automobile assembly. She was also very active in STEM education for minorities. She died at the age of sixty in 1994, in Ann Arbor, MI.