Ronald William Prest Drever was born on October 26, 1931, in Renfrewshire, Scotland. He received his B.S.c. in Pure Science from the University of Glasgow in 1953 and his Ph.D. in Natural Philosophy from the same institution in 1958. Drever divided his academic career between the University of Glasgow, where he taught from 1960 to 1979, and the California Institute of Technology, where he served as a professor of physics from 1979 to 2002, when he assumed the title of Professor of Physics Emeritus.
Drever exhibited a lifelong “ability to repair anything,” in the words of his brother Ian Drever. Even after turning that talent into the career-altering work of designing cutting-edge laser interferometers at the University of Glasgow in the 1970s and Caltech in the 1980s, he would still occasionally repair to the Scottish seaside with family to construct elaborate sandcastles, complete with tunnels, complex water systems, and dams, while pondering whatever problem in physics was currently confounding him.
Ronald Drever served as vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 1973 to 1976. Among numerous other awards and honors, he has also been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.