Tom McLeish did a first degree in physics and PhD (1987) in polymer physics at the University of Cambridge. He became a lecturer in physics at the University of Sheffield, building a group working on the theory of dynamics of complex fluids. In 1993 he took the chair in polymer physics at the University of Leeds. He has since won several awards both in Europe (Weissenberg Medal) and the USA (Bingham Medal) for his work on molecular rheology of polymers, and ran a large collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme in this field from 1999-2009 co-funded between EPSRC and industry.
From 2000-2005 he was a Senior Research Fellow of the EPSRC (UK), and from 2003-2009 the Director of the UK Polymer IRC, a multidisciplinary consortium of over 100 polymer scientists from university and industry. From 2004-2008 he was also Director of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre in Biomolecules and Cells. He has consulted for a number of chemical industries.
His research interests include: (i) molecular rheology of polymeric fluids); (ii) macromolecular biological physics; (iii) issues of theology, ethics and history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is in addition regularly involved in science-communication with the public. A book, Faith and Wisdom in Science will be published by OUP in May 2014.
In 2008 he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University. In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2012 he was made Vice-President of Science by the Institute of Physics (IoP).