Remembering Tom McLeish: Science, Religion and Big Questions

 Olivia Rathbone


On 27th February 2023, ECLAS lost friend and co-founder Prof Tom McLeish. He remains greatly missed. In the words of ECLAS Project Director, the Revd Prof David Wilkinson,

A year on and we continue to mourn the death of our friend and colleague Tom.  We are so thankful for his life, work and witness of his Christian faith which is foundational to the work of ECLAS. Tom enriched all of our lives with his sense of fun, curiosity about the world and his humility. Always a team player, he worked in a way so that others could grow. ECLAS, science and the church owe him so much.

On the one-year anniversary of Tom’s death, we are publishing a conversation recorded in the summer of 2022 but not broadcast before now. In this podcast, Science, Religion and Big Questions, Tom and David talk to Dr Jennifer Wiseman: senior astrophysicist, Director-Emeritus of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion programme (DoSER) and member of ECLAS’ International Advisory Group. Tom’s humour and curiosity come through in a conversation which ranges from silkworms to Star Trek.

Click here to listen to Science, Religion and Big Questions.

About Tom

Tom McLeish was Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics at the University of York, England. He was also a member of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies and Humanities Research Centre. His research in ‘soft matter and biological physics’ draws on interdisciplinary collaborations to understand how material properties emerge from molecular structure and dynamics. He led the UK ‘Physics of Life’ network and held a five-year research fellowship on protein physics and evolution. His OUP Very Short Introduction to Soft Matter appeared in 2020. In 2021, Tom was appointed Canon Scientist at St Alban’s Cathedral.

Tom was passionate about radical interdisciplinary thinking, contributing to several national reports on interdisciplinary research. He also worked on the framing of science within theology, sociology, history, education and philosophy, leading to the books Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014) and The Poetry and Music of Science (OUP 2019) and co-edited book Eclipse and Revelation: Total Solar Eclipses in Science, History, Literature, and the Arts (OUP 2024). He co-led the Ordered Universe project, a large interdisciplinary study of 13th century science. From 2008 to 2014 he served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University and was from 2015-2020 Chair of the Royal Society’s Education Committee.



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