Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland

Since their first date in 1961, Betsy Blake Middleton and John Clark Sutherland were inseparable. As undergrads majoring in different fields – biology for Betsy and physics for John – they studied together, and as professionals, they synchronized their careers. Betsy’s biology rubbed off on John, inspiring him to apply physics to biological questions. John’s physics enabled Betsy’s bioanalytical work. 

Betsy and John were partners, not only in life, but also in the scientific adventure they pursued with relentless curiosity and passion for discovery and invention. Betsy’s research focused on radiation-induced damage to DNA and its repair, as well as cell biology. John focused on spectroscopy, pioneering synchrotron radiation circular dichroism spectroscopy. Their research naturally overlapped, as John’s knack for inventing instruments and physical methods allowed Betsy to systematically address biological questions. 

Their life together as incisive, collaborative, and path-breaking scientists is inspiring. Through the Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Dean’s Chair in the College of Sciences, their legacy continues.  

Home page photo courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Date Range: 1961 - 2017

  • July 1, 2013
    Interim Deanship, East Carolina University
  • July 1, 2015
    Associate Deanship, Augusta University
  • December 31, 2015
    Finale of Campaign Georgia Tech

    On Dec. 31, 2015, College of Sciences Dean Paul M. Goldbart and his wife, School of Psychology Professor Jenny Singleton, were on the way to a New Year’s Eve gathering with family in London, England. “Up dinks an email from College of Sciences Director of Development Art Wasserman,” Goldbart recalls.


    It is the final day of a 10-year capital campaign. “Campaign Georgia Tech” has been a resounding success. Every goal has been met by every school and every college, in scholarships, in named chairs, in athletics, and in many more categories – except one: that each of the six colleges should have a dean’s chair. Five have them, but not the College of Sciences.


    “And then comes Art Wasserman’s email,” Goldbart recalls. It brought the news: John Sutherland has come to the Georgia Tech campus. He has met with President Peterson and others. And he has made the gift of The Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Dean’s Chair in the Georgia Tech College of Sciences.


    I stood there in the London high road of my childhood and sobbed with the joy of knowing what John’s tremendous generosity means for the College,” Goldbart says. “What a shining conclusion to the campaign! What an inspiring way to start 2016!
    Paul Goldbart
  • April 21, 2016
    Celebrating the Sutherland Chair

    The College of Sciences celebrated the establishment of the Betsy Middleton and John Clark Sutherland Dean’s Chair in the College of Sciences on April 21, 2016, at the Peachtree Club, in Atlanta, Georgia. 


    Following are excerpts from remarks by Dean and Sutherland Chair Paul M. Goldbart.


    “This is an extraordinary moment in the life of a college. The establishment of its dean’s chair enables every dean, from this time on, to help the College soar! Our gratitude runs deep.


    “The whole point of institutions such as Georgia Tech is to tackle the really important questions. If not here, where? If not us, who? The Sutherland Chair will empower the College to support adventurous research at launch, when it’s at its most vulnerable and least supportable, the kind of work that may well fail. But – Oh my! – success would change the way the world thinks – and thinks of Georgia Tech. 


    “How fitting that the College will henceforth be associated with two distinguished scientists, two partners, who have contributed so much to their fields. The Sutherland Chair will help us promote the strength that comes from being a diverse academic community. This is Atlanta! If not here, where? 


    “The undeniable measure of a college is its impact in research and education. Every day we ask ourselves: Are we focusing our energy and resources in ways that advance them? The Sutherland Chair will, I promise, be used to maximize our impact.”