Elected: 1977
Discipline: Physics and Astronomy
Professor Ronald William Prest Drever FRSE

Former Titular Professor of Natural Philosophy, California Institute of Technology.

Professor Ronald Drever was co-founder, with Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss, of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which in September 2015 made the first direct observation of gravitational waves. Seven months after Drever’s death Thorne and Weiss shared the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics for LIGO’s innovation and success. Ronald was born on 26 October 1931 in Bishopton, Renfrewshire. His father (George Douglas Drever) had, following distinguished Army service in WWI in Mesopotamia and the North-West Frontier, been awarded a medical scholarship. His GP training took him to Northumberland, where he met, and in 1929 married, Mary (Mollie) Matthews, following which he set up as a GP in Bishopton. Ronald started school at Glasgow Academy at the age of five in 1936. He hated school, largely due to a severe and persistent writing difficulty. However, he showed an early talent for creative design and construction, developing expertise in using Meccano, mirrors, magnets and electric motors. The outbreak of war in 1939 interrupted his education, and he transferred to the local school in Bishopton before returning to Glasgow Academy in 1943 (with his younger brother Ian). With the war still on, this involved the young boys travelling alone to and from Glasgow in the black-out, having to flash a tiny torch to stop the bus. Read more about Ron Drever