James A. Thomson

James A. Thomson

President Emeritus; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School

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Jim Thomson is president emeritus of the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.

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 is a member of several for-profit and nonprofit boards.

Thomson holds a B.S. in physics from the University of New Hampshire and an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University. He has honorary doctorates from Purdue and Pepperdine universities, the University of New Hampshire, and the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He has working knowledge of German and Spanish.


Ph.D. and M.S. in physics, Purdue University; B.S. in physics, University of New Hampshire



Selected Work

  • James A. Thomson, 2009 Year in Review, RAND Corporation (CP-401-2010-01), 2010
  • James A. Thomson, A House Divided: Polarization and Its Effect on RAND, RAND Corporation (OP-291), 2010
  • David Aaron ed., Three Years After: Next Steps in the War on Terror, RAND Corporation (CF-212), 2005
  • James A. Thomson, Must All Join? America, 1788; Europe, 2004, RAND Corporation (OP-136), 2004

Authored by James A. Thomson

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