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Fellows Directory

Thomas McLeish

Thomas McLeish

Professor Thomas McLeish FRS


Elected: 2011






Tom McLeish is a theoretical physicist whose work is renowned for increasing our understanding of the properties of soft matter. This is matter that can be easily changed by stress — including liquids, foams and biological materials.

Although Tom's work is mostly theoretical, he also works closely with those performing experiments and in industry. He has made significant advances in modelling the structure and properties of complex entangled molecules, blends of substances that don't usually mix (like oil and water), and modelling micro-structures under flow. This allows us to more easily predict complex fluid behaviour and processing in an industrial setting.

He is Director of the Durham Centre for Soft Matter at Durham University, a multidisciplinary team that works across physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering. He has published around 200 papers during his career. Tom’s other interests include historical studies of medieval science, and he is a member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham, and is the author of Faith and Wisdom in Science (2014)

Professional positions

Former Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, Durham University
Chair of Education Committee, The Royal Society
Senior Associate, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Mathematics
    • Applied mathematics and theoretical physics
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Statistical
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, physical
  • Engineering
    • Materials science (incl materials engineering)
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biophysics and structural biology
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Evolution, Biological modelling
  • Other
    • History of science, Public understanding of science, Science policy, Other interests


Biophysics theory, Biophysical simulations, Polymer Physics, Molecular rheology, Theory of Evolution, Self-assembly, History of Science, Philosophy of Science

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