Michelle Moyd. Photo by Martin Boling


Before she moved to Bloomington in 2008, Michelle Moyd, the Ruth N. Halls associate professor in the Indiana University Department of History and the associate director of the IU Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society, moved around. A lot.

Moyd’s father was in the Air Force and his family followed him wherever he was stationed. “Japan, North Dakota, Idaho,” Moyd says. “We lived in Germany two separate times in two separate places. That’s where I graduated from high school, and then I came to the States to go to college.”

She attended Princeton University through the Reserved Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, which led directly to a career in the Air Force.

“That was my reality at age 18,” Moyd says. “I got an ROTC scholarship and that’s what I did. It wasn’t until quite a bit later that I came to understand what else I might be able to do.”

Moyd, 53, served in the Air Force from 1991 to 2000, initially as an intelligence officer. In the mid-90s, she was recruited to teach African history and sent to the University of Florida to earn her master’s degree. “I enjoyed it so much that as soon as I got out of the Air Force, I went to graduate school to get my doctorate,” Moyd says.

She went on to earn a second master’s and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2008. Upon graduating, she came to IU, where she teaches courses on African history and other, more specialized courses on topics such as the history of humanitarianism and soldiering and warfare.

She lives here with her husband, Scot Wright, an academic advisor for the Groups Scholars Program at IU and owner of The Bike Shop. They have two daughters, ages 25 and 7.

Following the death of George Floyd and the surge in Black Lives Matter protests, Moyd helped organize a summer series of virtual panels at IU called “Confronting Racism: Conversations on Systemic Racism and Protest.”

“It was very public facing and meant to help people think about what was going on last summer in the ways that researchers do,” Moyd says.

For that and other work, Moyd was recognized with the 2021 Building Bridges Award for the IU Bloomington campus. The award is given to those who embody the spirit, vision, and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Moyd is currently teaching, researching, and writing. Her next book, Africa, Africans, and the First World War, is under contract with Cambridge University Press.