James A. Thomson, a nuclear physicist and former staff member of the National Security Council, was named president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corp. on Thursday.
Thomson, 44, had been serving as RAND's acting president and CEO since mid-May, when his predecessor, Donald B. Rice, left the private, nonprofit Santa Monica research center to become secretary of the Air Force.
"In appointing Jim as the fourth president in RAND's 41-year history, we are completing a thorough, nationwide search, convinced that we have made the best choice for the institution and the country it serves," RAND Board Chairman Lloyd N. Morrisett said Thursday in announcing Thomson's selection.
After taking a post in 1974 as an analyst in the office of the secretary of defense, Thomson joined the National Security Council staff in 1977, working on the formulation of policy for European-related defense and arms-control matters.
Project Air Force
He joined RAND in 1981, rising to the position of vice president in charge of the think tank's original research division, Project Air Force, in 1984. As the division chief, he managed studies and analyses for the Air Force that involved strategy, operations, technology and defense resources.
Last year, Thomson was named RAND's executive vice president, directing the bulk of its day-to-day operations.
"His leadership in national security policy research and analysis has been widely recognized," Morrisett said. "He will provide outstanding leadership for RAND."
Thomson has earned three degrees in physics--a bachelor of science from the University of New Hampshire and his master's and doctorate from Purdue University. He did basic research in experimental nuclear physics at the University of Wisconsin before going to work for the office of the secretary of defense.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.