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University closes Sam Wang investigation, finds research misconduct allegations to be ‘without merit’

Ad hoc faculty committee sides with Wang, Dean of the Faculty accepts its findings

<h5>Professor Sam Wang is the founder of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.&nbsp;</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of Jason Rhode</h6>
Professor Sam Wang is the founder of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. 
Courtesy of Jason Rhode

Princeton University found allegations of research misconduct against Princeton Gerrymandering Project (PGP) Director and neuroscience professor Sam Wang to be “without merit,” a University spokesperson told The Daily Princetonian. The University has officially completed and closed all internal investigations regarding Wang, the spokesperson said.

The allegations of research misconduct surrounded New Jersey’s redistricting efforts earlier this year. PGP staffers had raised objections, alleging that a report Wang had written on New Jersey’s congressional redistricting was biased and that he had an “agenda” of favoring Democrats, according to reporting by the New Jersey Globe that cited unnamed staffers. In the Globe’s reporting, Wang was also accused of mistreating those who worked for him and engaging in “retaliatory acts and job threats.”

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The Globe first reported the allegations against Wang on April 28. The Globe also claimed that Wang had a “possible Title IX violation” under investigation by the University, but in a statement to the ‘Prince’ in May, University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss denied this claim. The research misconduct and toxic workplace allegations resulted in a months-long internal investigation by the University.

“Following the procedures outlined in the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty of Princeton University, an ad hoc committee of the University’s Faculty carefully reviewed the allegations of research misconduct lodged against Dr. Wang, and found those allegations to be without merit,” Hotchkiss wrote in an email to the ‘Prince’ in late August. 

Hotchkiss said that the Dean of the Faculty had “accepted the committee’s findings, and the matter is now considered closed.”

“Any other investigations involving Dr. Wang have been completed and closed with no findings of policy violations,” Hotchkiss wrote.

Wang said he is ready to spend his time continuing his role as a professor and a researcher at the University.

“I am looking forward to devoting my full attention this fall to teaching and to my research in neuroscience and democracy,” Wang wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ He referred all further comments to Hotchkiss.

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Wang, who served as a crucial figure in New Jersey’s redistricting efforts, served as an advisor to John E. Wallace Jr. and Judge Philip Carchman, the chair of the Congressional Redistricting Commission and the non-partisan 11th member of the Legislative Apportionment Commission, respectively. The redistricting map that passed was created by Democratic members of the Commission and had some bipartisan support, but some State Republicans sued the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, among other groups, after its passage. That suit was dismissed in court on Feb. 3.

According to the Globe, “members of [Wang’s] staff alleged that he was manipulating data to match his personal agenda.” The Globe claimed that the Democratic map that passed hurt the re-election prospects of one incumbent and representative of New Jersey’s 7th district Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.). On the other hand, the map helped the districts represented by Reps. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), and Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.).

Wang is scheduled to teach one course this fall — NEU 501A: Cellular and Circuits Neuroscience — according to the Office of the Registrar website.

Lia Opperman is an Assistant News Editor who often covers University affairs, student life, and local news. She can be reached at liaopperman@princeton.edu, on Instagram @liamariaaaa, or on Twitter @oppermanlia.

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