Willie Hobbs Moore

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Willie Hobbs Moore
Willie Hobbs

(1934-05-23)May 23, 1934
DiedMarch 14, 1994(1994-03-14) (aged 59)
EducationUniversity of Michigan (Ph.D., 1972)
Scientific career
FieldsPhysics, engineering
InstitutionsFord Motor Company, Datamax
ThesisA Vibrational Analysis of Secondary Chlorides
Doctoral advisorSamuel Krimm

Willie Hobbs Moore (May 23, 1934 – March 14, 1994) was an American physicist and engineer. She was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in physics.[1]


Willie Hobbs was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on May 23, 1934, to parents Bessie and William Hobbs.[1]

In 1954, she began attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a first-generation college student.[2] There, she earned a bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1958 and a master of science in electrical engineering in 1961.[3] In 1972, she earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Michigan, making her the first African American woman to receive a PhD in physics from an American university.[2][4] Her doctoral thesis, A Vibrational Analysis of Secondary Chlorides,[5] was completed under the supervision of spectroscopist Dr. Samuel Krimm.[6][7]


While working toward her doctoral degree, Moore held positions at technology firms in Ann Arbor, such as KMS Industries and Datamax Corporation.[8] She also held engineering positions at Bendix Aerospace Systems, Barnes Engineering, and Sensor Dynamics, where she conducted theoretical analysis.[1]

After receiving her doctorate, Moore worked at the University of Michigan as a lecturer and research scientist until 1977, continuing spectroscopic work on proteins.[9] In the five years following her dissertation, she published more than thirty papers with Krimm and collaborators,[10][11][12][13][14][15] in a variety of journals, including the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, the Journal of Chemical Physics, and the Journal of Applied Physics.[2]

In 1977, Moore was hired by Ford Motor Company as an assembly engineer.[8] Moore expanded Ford's use of Japanese engineering and manufacturing methods in the 1980s.[1] She did this in part by writing a technical paper which communicated the concepts of Japanese engineer Genichi Taguchi as working design methods for practical use.[16]

In January 1991, Ebony magazine named Moore as one of their 100 "Most Promising Black Women in Corporate America".[16]

In Moore's honor, the University of Michigan Women in Science and Engineering office established the Willie Hobbs Moore Awards: The Aspire, Advance, Achieve Award for those who mentor students in the fields of Science, Technology, and Engineering and the Willie Hobbs Moore Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to equity in STEM.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Moore was a tutor at the Saturday African-American Academy in Ann Arbor, a community program for teaching science and mathematics to students in grades 5–12.[1] She was also a member of The Links, Incorporated.[1]

Moore had two sisters, Alice Doolin and Thelma Gordy. For thirty years, Moore was married to Sidney L. Moore, who taught at the University of Michigan's Neuropsychiatric Institute.[8] They had two children, Dorian Moore, M.D. and Christopher Moore RN. Moore has 3 grandchildren, Sydney Padgett, William Hobbs Moore, and C. Jackson Moore.

Moore died of cancer in her Ann Arbor home on March 14, 1994.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mickens, Ronald E. (2002). Edward Bouchet : the first African-American doctorate. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-02-4909-0. OCLC 191532647.
  2. ^ a b c Sandberg, Ariel (February 17, 2017). "Remembering trailblazer Willie Hobbs Moore, first African American woman to receive Ph.D." Michigan Engineering. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  3. ^ Smith, Jessie Carney. (2013). Black firsts : 4,000 ground-breaking & pioneering historical events. Visible Ink Press. ISBN 978-1-57859-424-5. OCLC 818851419.
  4. ^ "Center for History of Physics at AIP" (PDF).
  5. ^ Moore, Willie Hobbs. "A Vibrational Analysis of Secondary Chlorides". Dissertation, Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  6. ^ "Willie Hobbs Moore". The National Society of Black Physicists. February 2, 2018. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  7. ^ "Samuel Krimm". University of Michigan Physics.
  8. ^ a b c Grantham, Russell (March 15, 1994). "Scholar, tutor, pioneering black woman dies". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Willie Hobbs Moore | WISE @ Michigan". University of Michigan Women in Science and Engineering. Retrieved February 22, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Moore, W.H.; Ching, J.H.C.; Warrier, A.V.R.; Krimm, S. (October 1973). "Assignment of torsion and low frequency bending vibrations of secondary chlorides". Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular Spectroscopy. 29 (10): 1847–1858. Bibcode:1973AcSpA..29.1847M. doi:10.1016/0584-8539(73)80169-2. hdl:2027.42/33808.
  11. ^ Rabolt, J. F.; Moore, W. H.; Krimm, S. (September 1977). "Vibrational Analysis of Peptides, Polypeptides, and Proteins. 3. α-Poly(L-alanine)". Macromolecules. 10 (5): 1065–1074. Bibcode:1977MaMol..10.1065R. doi:10.1021/ma60059a034. PMID 916733.
  12. ^ Moore, W. H.; Krimm, S. (December 1, 1975). "Transition dipole coupling in Amide I modes of βpolypeptides". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 72 (12): 4933–4935. Bibcode:1975PNAS...72.4933M. doi:10.1073/pnas.72.12.4933. PMC 388847. PMID 16592297.
  13. ^ Hsu, S. L.; Moore, W. H.; Krimm, S. (October 1975). "A vibrational analysis of crystalline trans‐1,4‐polybutadiene". Journal of Applied Physics. 46 (10): 4185–4193. Bibcode:1975JAP....46.4185H. doi:10.1063/1.321430. hdl:2027.42/69708.
  14. ^ Moore, W.H.; Krimm, S. (December 1973). "A complete general valence force field for secondary chlorides". Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular Spectroscopy. 29 (12): 2025–2042. Bibcode:1973AcSpA..29.2025M. doi:10.1016/0584-8539(73)80061-3. hdl:2027.42/33779.
  15. ^ Moore, W. H.; Krimm, S. (November 1973). "Calculated intermolecular interactions in secondary chlorides". The Journal of Chemical Physics. 59 (9): 5195–5196. Bibcode:1973JChPh..59.5195M. doi:10.1063/1.1680738. hdl:2027.42/71083.
  16. ^ a b Grantham, Russell (February 4, 1991). "A driving force at Ford". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved June 10, 2020.