Tom McLeish FRS is Professor of Physics at Durham University. His research has contributed to the new field of ‘soft matter physics’. He has also led large academic-industrial collaborations, finding that these enrich fundamental science as much as they generate commercial value. One developed a fully molecular theory for the flow of molten plastics, solving the dynamics of topologically complex polymers and also generating design tools for industry. With biologists he has developed statistical mechanical theories for self-assembly of biomolecular fibrils, and thermal mechanisms for signalling in protein binding (‘allosteric’ signalling). He is also working on physics-inspired models of evolution. He is currently principal investigator of a renewal bid for the UK ‘Physics of Life’ network, which would be funded by EPSRC.
Other academic interests include the framing of science, society, and science policy (a recent collaboration studied narratives around GMOs in BRIC nations), and science history (a current large interdisciplinary project re-examining scientific treatises from the 13th century).
His work in science policy and public engagement with science has drawn him to the potential for theological narratives to inform debates in science and technology, resulting in the recent books Faith and Wisdom in Science (Oxford 2014) and Let There Be Science (Lion Hudson 2017). He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham (2008-2014) and is Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993 and is a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.