Tom McLeish

Tom McLeish
  • Durham University
  • Professor
  • Academic Concentration: Soft Matter Physics
  • Director's Fellow (2017-2018)
  • "The Poetry and Music of Science: A Comparison of Creativity in the Arts and Sciences"

Professor Tom McLeish, FRS, is Professor of Physics at Durham University. His research has contributed to the new field of "soft matter physics," a field in which he works with chemists, engineers, and biologists to study relationships between molecular structure and emergent material properties. This work has also included biologists, with whom Professor McLeish developed statistical mechanical theories for the self-assembly of biomolecular fibrils and thermal mechanisms for signalling in protein binding ("allosteric" signalling).

Professor McLeish’s current research includes physics-inspired models of evolution, and he is currently the principal investigator of the United Kingdom "Physics of Life" network, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). He has also served as the leader for large academic-industrial collaborations, which Professor McLeish argues enrich fundamental science as well as generate commercial value. His other academic interests include the framing of science, society and science policy, including his recent collaborative study of narratives about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China); and science history, especially a large current interdisciplinary project re-examining scientific treatises from the 13th century.

Professor McLeish is the author of Faith and Wisdom in Science (2014) and Let There Be Science (with David Hutchings, 2017), works that articulate a theological narrative for the debates in science and theology inspired by his work in science policy and public science. From 2008 to 2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University and currently serves as Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee, which elected him a Fellow in 2011. He is a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.