Tom McLeish

Prof. Tom McLeish FInstP FRS


Tom McLeish was a Distinguished Fellow of ISCAST and was Professor of Physics at Durham University in the UK. He passed away in February 2023. Alan Gijsbers, past president of ISCAST, wrote this tribute, acknowledging Tom’s significant contributions to both ISCAST and the wider science–faith conversation.

Tom McLeish was Professor of Physics at Durham University in the UK. Tom’s first degree was in physics followed by a PhD (1987) in polymer physics at Cambridge University. A lectureship at Sheffield University in complex fluid physics was then followed by a chair at Leeds University from 1993. He won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and he directed a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme in this field from 1999 to 2009, co-funded by EPSRC and industry.

Tom’s research interests included molecular rheology of polymeric fluids, macromolecular biological physics, and issues of theology, ethics, and history of science. He published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and was also regularly involved in science communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. In 2014, Oxford University Press published his book Faith and Wisdom in Science. He was a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993 in the dioceses of Ripon and York.

From 2008 to 2014 Tom served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He served as Vice-President of Science and Innovation in the Institute of Physics 2012–2015, and is currently chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee.

Selected Publications

  • T.C.B. McLeish, “Tube Theory of Entangled Polymer Dynamics”, Adv. Phys., 51, 1379-1527 (2002)
  • A. Aggeli, M. Bell, N. Boden, J. N. Keen, P. F. Knowles, T. C. B. McLeish, M. Pitkeathly and S. E. Radford “Responsive Gels Formed by the Spontaneous Self-Assembly of Peptides into Polymeric -Sheet Tapes”.   Nature, 386, 259-262, (1997)
  • J. Bent, L. R. Hutchings, R. W. Richards, T. Gough, R. Spares, P. D. Coates, I. Grillo, O. G. Harlen, D. J. Read, R. S. Graham, A. E. Likhtman, D. J. Groves, T. M. Nicholson, and T. C. B. McLeish, “Neutron-Mapping Polymer Flow: Scattering, Flow Visualization, and Molecular Theory”, Science, 301,1691-1695 (2003).
  • R.J. Hawkins and T.C.B. McLeish, “Coarse-Grained Model of Entropic Allostery”, Phys. Rev. Letts, 93, 098104 (2004)
  • T.L. Rogers et al., “Modulation of Global Low-Frequency Motions Underlies Allosteric Regulation: Demonstration in CRP/FNR Family Transcription Factors”, PLOS-Biology, 11(9): e1001651 (2013)
  • D.J. Read, D. Auhl, C. Das, J. Den Doelder, M. Kapnistos, I. Vittorias and T.C.B. McLeish . “From Reaction to Rheology: Linked Molecular Models of Polymerisation Kinetics and Entangled Dynamics Predict Branched Polymer Structure and Flow”, Science, 333, 1871-1874 (2011).
  • M. Kawakami, K. Burne, B. Khatri, T.C.B. McLeish, S.E. Radford and D.A. Smith, “Viscoelastic Properties of Single Polysaccharide Molecules Determined by Analysis of Thermally Driven Oscillations of an Atomic Force Microscope Cantilever”, Langmuir, 20, 9299-9303 (2004).
  • T. C. B. McLeish and W. C. K. Poon, “Real Absences in the Sciences:  Scientists’ Response to George Steiner’s Real Presences”,Theology, (2) (1999)
  • T.C.B. McLeish, “Values in Science Research” in “Values in Higher Education” S. Robinson and C. Katulushi eds., Aureus Publishing (2005)
  • Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Giles E.M. Gasper, Michael Huxtable, Tom C.B. McLeish, Cecilia Panti and Hannah Smithson, “Dimensions of Colour: Robert Grosseteste’s De Colore; Edition, Translation and Interdisciplinary Analysis”, Durham Medieval and Renaissance Texts (2013).
  • Tom McLeish, Faith and Wisdom in Science, OUP (2014).