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James A. Thomson


Thomson describes his career in four phases. In the first phase, he was an experimental nuclear physicist and published numerous scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. In the second, he was a government official dealing with defense and arms control matters, serving in the U.S. Defense Department and at the White House. In the third phase, he focused on policy research covering a range of strategic issues. In the fourth phase, while continuing his research, Thomson moved into research leadership positions at RAND. He served as RAND's fourth president from 1989 to 2011. Under his leadership, RAND grew by 60 percent, expanded its research agenda, increased its policy impact, and become an international organization with offices in North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Thomson received his B.S. in physics from the University of New Hampshire and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University. He has honorary doctorates from Purdue and Pepperdine universities and the University of New Hampshire.