LaiYee Leong

Lai Yee Leong




Educational Background

Ph.D., Yale University


Dr. LaiYee Leong is a Senior Fellow at SMU's John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and a Fellow at the SMU Center for Presidential History.  In addition to teaching in the Political Science Department, she is also on the faculty of the Graduate Liberal Studies program.  Dr. Leong received her B.A. in English with distinction in the major (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University.

Dr. Leong is the lead scholar of the CPH’s oral history projects “Post-9/11 US Policy in East and Southeast Asia” and “Transatlantic Diplomacy After 9/11: The US and Norway.”  These projects explore the impact of the 9/11 attacks on US foreign policy and consequences on relations with other states.  Comprising extensive video-recorded interviews with senior officials from the Bush administration, foreign leaders, diplomats, and expert observers, the projects offer a unique archive of digital history materials accessible to scholars and the public.

More generally, Dr. Leong’s scholarship deals with Islamic movements, democratization, and US foreign policy.  She is exploring new venues of research related to grand strategy, national security, and leadership.

Dr. Leong teaches undergraduate courses on Islam and Politics, Movements and Protests, the Politics of the Middle East, and the Politics of Southeast Asia.  In Fall 2019, she will join the faculty of the Highland Management Tower Scholars Program in Public Policy and International Affairs. 

Dr. Leong is also Faculty Advisor to the Asian Council, the umbrella organization of Asian and Asian-American student groups at SMU.  She serves on university committees that award student scholarships and fellowships, and participated in SMU’s cultural intelligence initiative at its inception.  She has native fluency in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, proficiency in Indonesian/Malay, and working knowledge of Norwegian.