HE family of a pioneering Bishopton physicist has donated half a million pounds to support a postgraduate research scholarship at the University of Glasgow.

The uni’s School of Physics and Astronomy has received the substantial bequest from the estate of Professor Ronald Drever, to fund a scholarship in his name.

Professor Drever, 85, passed away in March last year – seven months before colleagues Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the observation of gravitational waves.

The first Professor Ronald Drever Scholarship in Physics and Astronomy is expected to be presented to a postgraduate student later this year.

The scholarship is expected to be able to fund one postgraduate position at the uni’s Institute for Gravitational Research each year in perpetuity.

Professor Martin Hendry, head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We’re honoured and grateful that Professor Drever chose to donate such a substantial sum to the university where he began his career and made his initial contributions to the field of gravitational wave research.”

In the 1980s, Professor Drever co-founded the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project in America.

His work helped lay some of the foundations for the LIGO collaboration’s historic first detection of gravitational waves in 2015 – a century after their existence was proposed by Albert Einstein.

The detection was also the first direct evidence of the existence of black holes.

A spokesperson for the Drever family said: “We are delighted that Ronald’s life work was demonstrated during his lifetime and his legacy will provide the opportunity to further this ground-breaking research over the years to come.

“Ronald received bursaries at crucial points in his early studies and it is brilliant that the historical investment in Ronald can be perpetuated, supporting future physicists in this field.”