August 31, 2017

Lafayette Hosts Data-Science Series Featuring Political Statistician Sam Wang

Samuel WangAward-winning neuroscientist and political statistician Sam Wang, Ph.D., will give the keynote lecture 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, as part of a data-science series that runs Tuesday, Sept. 5, through Thursday, Sept. 7, at Lafayette College.

Wang will discuss gerrymandering, a practice of drawing district boundaries to give an unfair political advantage to one party over another, and how it can be remedied using mathematics. His presentation, “Cracking, Packing, and Kidnapping: It’s Not That Hard to Spot Gerrymandering,” will be held in Colton Chapel.

Wang, a professor of neuroscience and a faculty associate in law and public affairs at Princeton University, has won awards from The Washington Post and Common Cause for his work in statistical politics. He has been covered by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, National Public Radio, and CNN—where he ate a dead cricket live on the air to keep good on his promise that he would “eat a bug” if Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In 2017, Wang founded the Gerrymander Project to research the effects of gerrymandering. For more information, visit gerrymander.princeton.edu.

“Engaging with data science as an academic community is critical because of the ability to use statistics to gain important, practical insights into new fields,” says Trent Gaugler, assistant professor of mathematics at Lafayette. “The topic of Dr. Wang’s talk is a terrific example. We can apply basic statistical methods to data that are, in part, a product of the data explosion to understand and diagnose gerrymandering, which is something that affects every citizen of the country.”

The other talks in Lafayette’s data-science series:

  • Brittany Fiore-Gartland, Ph.D., director of data science ethnography at the eScience Institute and a research scientist in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at University of Washington in Seattle, will speak about social and ethical dimensions of the emerging practice of data science 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, in Oechsle Hall room 224.
  • Nicholas Horton, Ph.D., professor of mathematics and statistics at Amherst College, will talk about innovative approaches to teaching statistics 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, in Pardee Hall room 217.
  • Wang, Fiore-Gartland, and Horton will gather for a panel discussion on data science as a liberal art noon Wednesday, Sept. 6, in Hugel Science Center room 100.

The four events are free and open to the public. Media are welcome.

Media Contact
Stephen Wilson
Executive Director of Editorial Services
Lafayette College
wilsonsr@lafayette.edu
610-330-3324