1st Novemeber 2016 – University of Glasgow physicists who played a key role in the historic first detection of gravitational waves have received a prestigious award for their achievements.

A total of 13 scientists associated with the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy received the President’s Medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) at an event held at the Society’s headquarters yesterday (Monday 31 October).

The award, presented by the RSE President and University of Glasgow alumna Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, recognises outstanding achievements from scientists working in Scotland.


The awards were presented after a public lecture from Professor Martin Hendry, Head of the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, on the science of gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime caused by massive astronomical events such as the collision of black holes.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research led on the conception, development, building and installation of the sensitive mirror suspensions at the heart of the US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, which made the first direct observation of the existence of gravitational waves on September 14, 2015. University of Glasgow researchers were also involved in the analysis of the data from the first detection.

Alongside 11 researchers from the University’s Institute of Gravitational Research, the medal was also presented to Professor Norna Robertson, who is affiliated both with the University of Glasgow and the California Institute of Technology, and Professor Ronald Drever, a Glasgow graduate and researcher who, along with Professors Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss, played a key role in the conception and development of LIGO after moving to the USA in 1984.

University of Glasgow press release