Tom McLeish FRS
Professor of Natural Philosophy



  • MA Physics and Theoretical Physics (Cambridge 1984)
  • PhD Polymer Physics (Cambridge 1987)
  • Author of 'Faith and Wisdom in Science' (OUP 2014)


  • Lecturer in Physics (Sheffield 1989)
  • Chair of Polymer Physics (Leeds 1993)
  • Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research (Durham 2008-2014)
  • Author of The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019)

Departmental roles

Professor of Natural Philosophy

University roles

  • Member of Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Member of Research Centre for the Humanities 
  • Member of Humanities Research Centre (HRC)
  • Member of Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU)

External activities


  • Fellow Royal Society (and Chair, RS Education Committee)
  • Fellow Institute of Physics
  • Fellow Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Fellow American Physical Society 
  • Trustee of the John Templeton Foundation (2016-2022)
  • Principle Investigator of UK Physics of Life Network (EPSRC and BBSRC)

Editorial duties

  • Journal of Rheology; Soft Matter

Invited talks and conferences

  • Dieter Richter Festschrift conference, Jülich, March 2015
  • Alan Day Inaugural Lecture, University of Melbourne, September 2015
  • Leading Public Communicators Lecture, University of Otago, September 2015
  • ‘Transcending Orthodoxies’ conference on academic freedom, Notre Dame, October 2015
  • Keynote International Congress in Rheology, Kyoto, August 2016
  • Brightlands Lecturer, Maasctricht Campus, February 2017
  • Visiting Fellow Notre Dame IAS August 2017
  • Research Seminar Univeristy of Michigan, August 2017
  • James White Memorial Lecture, Akron, October 2017
  • Royal Society Discussion Meeting, London, June 2018
  • Flow and Assembly, Okinawa, September 2018
  • Science Literacy Congress, Beijing, September 2018
  • Science and Human Flourishing, Cyprus, Novermber 2018
  • Physics Colloquium, University of Freiburg, February 2019

Media coverage

  • Regular newspaper reviews on BBC Radio York
  • BBC Radio 4: Science Stories 2017, The Sunday Programme 2017
  • Appearances on BBC Songs of Praise 2015 and 2018
  • Overseas media on science and faith in Australia, New Zealand and USA



My research maintains a core of soft-matter and biological physics, especially concerning the role of random processes in protein dynamics, self-assembly of bio-molecular fibres and in evolution itself.
I also have broad interdisciplinary research interests concerning science within wider historical and cultural contexts. These include collaborative work on medieval science, the philosophy of strong emergence, the entanglement of science with literature and the theology of science.


  • Dynamic mechanisms of Protein Allostery
  • Self-assembly of Silk Fibres under Flow
  • Statistical Mechanics of Evolution
  • Interdisciplinary Readings of the Scientific Works of Robert Grosseteste
  • Wisdom Literature and a Theology of Science
  • Comparative Creativity in Arts, Humanities and Sciences
  • New social narratives for science

Research group(s)

  • Physics of Life
  • New narratives for science (SATSU)
  • Medieval Science (CMS)


  • EPSRC Established Career Fellowship (PI 2017-2022): Physics of Life - Noise, Information and Evolution in Protein Binding
  • EPSRC/BBSRC Network+ (PI 2016-2019): The Physics of Life
  • AHRC Large Grant (Co-I 2016-2020): The Ordered Universe: Interdisciplinary Readings of Medieval Science 
  • Templeton World Charities Foundation: Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science (Co-I 2015-2019)
  • EPSRC Project Grant (Co-I 2017-2021): Molecular Migration in Complex Matrices 
  • National Formulation Centre (Co-I 2018-2020): 'Microstar'


  • Dr. Martin Cann and Dr. Ehmke Pohl (Biology, Durham)
  • Prof. Eugene Shakhnovich (Chemistry, Harvard)
  • Dr. Giles Gasper (History, Durham) Prof Hannah Smithson (Psychology, Oxford)
  • Prof. David Wilkinson (Theology, Durham)
  • Prof. Mark Wilson (Chemistry, Durham)

Personal research group

Available PhD research projects

  • Satistical Mechanical approaches to genotype-phenotype maps in evolution


  • Mr Peter Hannay (PhD on statistical mechanical approach to the evolution of dance) 

Prof Tom McLeish

Department of Physics
University of York
YO10 5DD
Tel: +44 (0)1904 322293
Fax: +44 (0)1904 322214
Web: Personal page
Room: P/A 023