Sam Wang

welcome to your brain

princeton election consortium

Sheng-Hung (Sam) Wang (b. 1967) is an American professor, neuroscientist and author known for the books ‘Welcome to Your Brain’ and ‘Welcome to Your Child’s Brain,’ as well as for the Princeton Election Consortium psephology (study of elections) web site. Wang was raised in California.

His parents emigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the 1960s. He attended the California Institute of Technology and graduated in 1986 with a B.S. in physics with honors at the age of 19, making him the youngest member of his graduating class. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Stanford University.

After receiving his Ph.D., Wang worked at Duke University as a postdoctoral fellow, in the United States Senate, and as a postdoctoral member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. In the last position he learned to use pulsed lasers and two-photon microscopy to study brain signaling. In 2006, Wang became Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His current research program addresses learning and plasticity in the brain, with a focus on the cerebellum, a major brain structure that processes unexpected sensory and other information, and guides movement and cognitive/emotional processing. He has a major interest in autism, a disorder in which the cerebellum has disrupted structure more often than any other brain region.

In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate US Presidential polls using probabilistic methods. The method’s applications included correct Election-Eve predictions, high-resolution tracking of the race during the campaign, and identification of targets for resource allocation. Wang’s calculation, based on polls only, ended up precisely at the actual electoral outcome, Bush 286, Kerry 252 EV. In 2008, Sam Wang and Andrew Ferguson founded the Princeton Election Consortium blog, in which he analyzes U.S. national election polling. His statistical analysis in 2012 correctly predicted the presidential vote outcome in 49 of 50 states and even the two candidate popular vote of 51.1% to 48.9%. That year, the Princeton Election Consortium also correctly called 10 out of 10 close Senate races and came within a few seats of the final House outcome.

Wang’s first book, ‘Welcome To Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How To Drive,’ was a best-seller. It was named 2009 Young Adult Science Book of the Year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been translated into more than 20 languages. His second book, ‘Welcome To Your Child’s Brain: How The Mind Develops From Conception To College,’ will be translated into 16 languages. Both books were co-authored by neuroscientist and journalist Sandra Aamodt.

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