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 teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics, and she specializes in the study of statebuilding, state capacity, and sovereignty. Much of her work examines how international actors disrupt political order and weaken the state in developing countries. She also investigates the domestic and historical origins of state capacity.

Her research has been published in the Journal of Politics, International OrganizationWorld 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. Her first book, which explores how foreign subversion undermines state authority and promotes ungoverned space in developing countries, is forthcoming from Cornell University Press.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and her B.A. in Political Science - International Relations from the University of California, San Diego.

Selected Publications

Lee, Melissa M. 2018. “The International Politics of Incomplete Sovereignty: How Hostile Neighbors Weaken the State.” International Organization 72(2): 235–315.

Lee, Melissa M., and Nan Zhang. 2017. “Legibility and the Informational Foundations of State Capacity.” Journal of Politics 79(1): 118–132.

Selected Honors and Awards

2016 Helen Dwight Reid (now Merze Tate) award for the best dissertation in the field of international relations, law, and politics