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Department of Physics

Staff profile

Prof Tom McLeish, FInstP, FRS

Professor in the Department of Physics
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43642
Room number: 108

(email at


 For PVC (Research) business please use the email or contact my PA, Mrs Dianne Kirkby, at, telephone +44 (0)191 334 6051.

For Physics business please use the email

Research Interests

  • Soft Condensed Matter Physics

  • Biological Physics

  • Polymer Molecular Rheology

  • Theology of Science

Molecular Rheology of Entangled Polymer Fluids

My group has been persuing a multidisciplinary programme with the goal to connect the fundamental physics of entanglement at the molecular level to the emergent viscoelasticity and flow behaviour (rheology) of polymeric fluids. A particular theme has been “long-chain branched” polymers. Since 1999 this research has been framed within the large EPSRC/Industry Microscale Polymer Processing (MuPP) collaboration.

Biological Physics of Protein Dynamics, Self-assembly and Evolution

The theme here is thermal motion, statistical mechanics and noise in biological processes. With biologists and biochemists we are unravelling allosteric signalling in proteins and processes in amyloid fibril assembly. I have advocated a high-dimensional view of protein folding, and a “genotype-phenotype” model of evolutionary landscapes. This work takes place in the Durham Biophysical Sciences Institute (BSI).

Medieval Science – the Ordered Universe Project

Within the Durham Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (IMRS) we are reexamining scientific thinking in the 12th-14th centuries. Close reading of works by teams of medieval scholars and scientists gives new insights into the vital but overlooked foundations of modern science.

Theology and Science

A long-term project “Faith in Science” looks at the theological expression of ancient proto-scientific thinking, and aims to bring long-lived narratives to bear on current issues in science and technology.
May 2014 sees the publication of the book "Faith and Wisdom in Science" with OUP

Soft Matter, Complex Fluids and Biological Physics

My colleagues and I are interested in rich behaviour of structured fluids such as polymer solutions and melts, self-assembled matter, and in the physics of biological systems. My own work is mostly theoretical, but almost always in close collaboration with experiment,
and often across industry-university teams. I am Director of the Durham Centre for Soft Matter, a multidisciplinary centre encompassing physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering. My work as PVC-R at Durham supports other interests in the essential unity of the academic enterprise, and in interdisciplinary research. The history of ideas, the science-theology nexus and societal engagment with science has involved me in projects in all three faculties at Durham.

Research Groups

Department of Physics

Centre for Materials Physics

  • Theory and simulation of soft condensed matter and biological physics

Selected Publications

Journal papers: academic

Show all publications