Chappell Lawson, an associate professor of political science at MIT and a member of the MIT Center for International Studies, has been named director of the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). He succeeds Suzanne Berger, the Raphael Dorman-Helen Starbuck Professor of Political Science, as MISTI's director. Lawson will assume his new responsibilities on July 1.
MISTI connects MIT students and faculty with research and innovation around the world. MIT's primary international program, MISTI is a pioneer in applied international studies — a distinctively MIT concept.
"Chap will be a tremendous leader of MISTI and its most ardent champion in the days ahead," said Deborah Fitzgerald, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT. "He has a contagious enthusiasm for teaching and mentoring MIT students, and an eagerness for innovation both in the classroom and beyond. His deep experiences abroad have given him a true love for global education. I very much look forward to working with him on MISTI's future."
"Chap, a fine scholar with real world experience, also embraces the MISTI philosophy of 'applied international studies.' We are delighted he will take MISTI to the next level," said Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT, director of the MIT Center for International Studies and the founding director of MISTI's MIT Japan Program.
Lawson's research focuses on Mexican politics and political communication. From September 2009 through February 2011, Lawson was on leave from MIT as a political appointee in the Obama administration, serving as executive director and senior advisor to the commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He previously served as director of Inter-American Affairs on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration. Lawson received his PhD from Stanford University in 1999, joining the MIT faculty that year.
"MISTI is one of MIT's great treasures," Lawson said. "I am honored to take up where Suzanne Berger is leaving off and look forward to building on what she, Dick Samuels, and the other faculty and staff at MISTI have created."