Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs

417 Robertson Hall
Julie Newton
External Website:


  • Sovereignty
  • State capacity
  • statebuilding
  • political development
  • Foreign aid


Melissa M. Lee is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs in the Department of Politics and the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Professor Lee's research and teaching interests bridge the subfields of international relations and comparative politics, with a specialization in sovereignty, state capacity, statebuilding, and political development. Much of her current research is on sovereignty, broadly defined. She is also deeply interested in understanding how international actors promote or undermine state capacity in developing countries. Her research has been published in the Journal of PoliticsWorld Development, and Governance. She is the 2016 recipient of the American Political Science Association's Helen Dwight Reid Award for best dissertation in the field of international relations, law, and politics.
Professor Lee periodically consults for the United States government on the topics of state capacity and statebuilding. She has previously consulted for the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy, and Security, a joint project of the Kofi Annan Founation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and a B.A. in Political Science - International Relations from the University of California, San Diego.