The Right to Vote, but Nobody to Vote For: Partisan Gerrymandering in 2017 and beyond

Sam Wang, Professor of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 6:00pm
By Invitation Only
Graduate Students
Policy Students

The Program in Law and Public Affairs invites MPP/MPA students to join us for "Law in Public Service: Not Just for Lawyers," where our guest will be Sam Wang, Professor of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and founder of the Princeton Election Consortium and the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

This event is full.   To be added to the waitlist, please email   Please respond by Noon on November 29, 2017.

Partisan gerrymandering robs citizens of having someone to vote for, simply by virtue of the fact that they have expressed a partisan preference. The Supreme Court may soon find this form of viewpoint discrimination to be unconstitutional. This comes not a moment too soon, since up to half of the seats in a legislative delegation may be gifted to one side or the other, depending on how the lines are drawn. The power of gerrymandering was apparent last month and Virginia, where Democrats won the popular vote by nine percentage points, yet failed to win control of the House of Delegates. What happens to democracy when legislators are shielded from the wishes of their constituents? Can this be repaired in courts and in state ballot initiatives? Come hear how simple math can make these issues clearer for litigators and reformers alike.


The Law in Public Service Series provides an opportunity for policy students to engage in a single-table off-the-record conversation with an expert in policy issues on the public agenda.  Attendance is limited and determined by the order of response.  Any student who commits to attend must notify LAPA at least 24 hours in advance of the dinner if they will not attend and/or should endeavor to find a substitute.  LAPA will maintain a wait list if capacity is reached.  Failure to give notice may result in disqualification from future attendance.

Sam Wang
Professor of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute,

Sam Wang is a professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is also a faculty associate of the Program in Law and Public Affairs. An alumnus of the California Institute of Technology, where he received a B.S. with honor in physics, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1993. He conducted postdoctoral research at Duke University Medical Center and then at Bell Labs Lucent Technologies. In the mid-1990s, he also worked on science and education policy for the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Sam Wang joined the Princeton University faculty in 2000.

His neuroscience research focuses on the neurobiology of learning from birth to adulthood, at levels ranging from single synapses to the whole brain. His research places special emphasis on the cerebellum, a brain region generally associated with the coordination of muscle movements. He is particularly curious about novel roles for the cerebellum in cognition and social thought processes, and he is using neural imaging of this part of the brain to search for clues to the causes of autism, a major concern of his laboratory.

He is also noted for pioneering statistical methods to analyze U.S. presidential election polls, starting in 2004 at the Princeton Election Consortium. He is now applying these methods to help define and limit partisan gerrymandering. His work on gerrymandering has been published in the Stanford Law Review, the Election Law Journal, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

The recipient of a 2004 National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, Dr. Wang has also been an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a W. M. Keck Foundation Distinguished Young Scholar. Last year, he received a McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award. In 2015, he was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to the New Jersey Governor's Council on Medical Research and Treatment of Autism. His research has been featured by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and National Public Radio.

Sam Wang’s first book, Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life, published in 2008, was named Young Adult Science Book of the Year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2011, he published Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College. The two books are available in over 20 languages.