Sutherland, Gordon Brims Black McIvor, Sir, 1907-1980

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M.A. in mathematics and B.Sc. in Physics (1929) from St. Andrews University, Scotland. He then spent 2 years in Cambridge where he decided to abandon theoretical physics in favor of experimental work on infrared spectra, an interest which continued throughout his career. The award of a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship enabled Sutherland to spend two years at the University of Michigan studying infrared spectroscopy under D.M. Dennison. He returned to Cambridge in 1933, obtained his Ph.D the next year and continued his research in Cambridge until 1949. During the Second World War he developed the use of infrared techniques in the analysis of 'enemy' fuels which his team undertook in collaboration with H.W. Thompson (q.v.) in Oxford. In 1949 he returned to Michigan as Professor of Physics where he built up a successful infrared research group with a strong emphasis on biophysical studies. In 1956 he was appointed as Director of the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington in succession to E.C. Bullard (q.v.), where he remained until 1964 when he became Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was elected FRS in 1949.

From the description of Papers and correspondence, 1921-1982. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78311224

From the description of Addition to papers, 1935-1968. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77898589

Sir Gordon Brims Black McIvor Sutherland (1907-1980), physicist, was born in Caithness, Scotland. He was educated at Morgan Academy, Dundee, and St. Andrew's University, from which he graduated with an M.A. in mathematics and B.Sc. in physics in 1929. He spent the following two years in Cambridge, where he decided to abandon theoretical physics in favour of experimental work on infrared spectra, an interest which continued throughout his research career.

During his second year at Cambridge Sutherland met D.M. Dennison and this prompted him to apply for a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to work under Dennison at the University of Michigan which was then the most advanced centre in the world for the study of infrared spectroscopy. He spent two years at Michigan, returning to Cambridge in autumn 1933.

After obtaining his Ph.D. degree in 1934 Sutherland remained in Cambridge, working first with W.G. Penney on the problem of the structure of the hydrogen peroxide molecule, and then with various research students, including G.K.T. Conn, M.M. Davies, E. Lee, and C.K. Wu. During the Second World War he began by working for the Ministry of Supply on unexploded bombs, but in 1941 he returned to Cambridge to develop the use of infrared spectroscopy in the analysis of 'enemy' fuels, which his team undertook in collaboration with H.W. Thompson at Oxford.

In 1949 Sutherland returned to the University of Michigan as Professor of Physics, where he built up a successful infrared research group with a strong emphasis on biophysical studies. In 1956 he was appointed Director of the National Physical Laboratory in succession to Sir Edward Bullard, where he remained until 1964, when he became Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The pressures of administrative work in the N.P.L. allowed little time for Sutherland to pursue his personal research interests, but his position as head of a large government laboratory and then of a Cambridge college encouraged a growing interest in the wider issues of science policy and education on which he wrote, lectured and chaired committees throughout the 1960s. He retired from Emmanuel in 1977.

From the guide to the Sir Gordon Sutherland: Correspondence and Papers, 20th century, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)

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Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sir Gordon Sutherland: Correspondence and Papers, 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Sutherland, Gordon Brims Black McIvor, Sir, 1907-1980. Papers and correspondence, 1921-1982. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Papers and correspondence of Sir Gordon Brims Black McIvor Sutherland, 1907-1980, 1921-1982 Cambridge University Library
referencedIn Adel, Arthur, 1908-1994. Response to History of Modern Astrophysics Survey, 1980. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Sutherland, Gordon Brims Black McIvor, Sir, 1907-1980. Addition to papers, 1935-1968. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Sir Gordon Sutherland: Correspondence and Papers, 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn Tolansky, Samuel, 1926-1973 Senate House Library, University of London
creatorOf Gabor, Dennis, 1900-1979. Correspondence, 1961-1969. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adel, Arthur, 1908-1994. person
associatedWith Cambridge University corporateBody
associatedWith Gabor, Dennis, 1900-1979. person
associatedWith International Organisation for Pure and Applied Biophysics corporateBody
associatedWith Michigan University corporateBody
associatedWith National Physical Laboratory (Great Britain) corporateBody
associatedWith Royal Society for Technologists corporateBody
associatedWith Royal Society (Great Britain) corporateBody
associatedWith Sutherland Gordon Brims Black McIvor 1907-1980 person
associatedWith Thompson, Harold Warris, 1908-1983. person
associatedWith Tolansky, Samuel, 1907-1973 person
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Birth 1907

Death 1980

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