New Year, New Website

I haven't been keeping my website up to date with my career as a data scientist and I'd love to start sharing more about the projects my team and I have been working on. I used to be on Squarespace and the thought of trying to write up R code in Squarespace's CMS was enough to keep me from just never sharing. No more! I’ve migrated over to blogdown and am hosting on Netlify.

About me

Samuel Crane, PhD I am the Director of Data Science at Amplify, an educational technology company in Brooklyn. I lead a team of data scientists inside of Amplify’s Research & Measurement group. Our focus is on analytics, algorithm development, and measuring the impact of our curricula and assessments. Formerly a biologist, I earned my doctorate studying the ecology and evolutionary genetics of beetles before transitioning to a career in data science.


Talks I give talks on data science, R, career transitions for academics, edtech, and educational measurement. Data Science Speaker Series Panel discussion on careers in data science at Rockefeller University, Data Science Initiative 2018-10-30 A Closer Look: What is Data Analytics, and How to Build a Data-driven Team Panel discussion at the inaugral NYC Looker meetup at the Looker NY meetup 2018-09-13 Science Alumni Mentoring Roundtable

Comparative Biology as Data Science

Alaska brown bear, specimen measurement chart, AMNH Digital Special Collections I recently spoke at the American Museum of Natural History on the topic of alternative academic careers for biologists. The talk was organized by the Museum’s graduate school for its current graduate students and postdocs. Also on the agenda was Eric Vieira, Director of Special Research programs at CUNY. After a solid year (and going strong) as data analyst at an educational technology and software company, I’ve been able to feel out the boundaries of my own skills in this new environment.

Great Lab Websites

I’m curious which ones are your favorite & WHY What makes an academic website great? Recently Michael Eisen started collecting suggestions for great lab websites via Twitter. He’s posting the suggestions at I expressed my dismay at the rather pedestrian average of these great lab websites (deemed great by the people who suggested them) and have been asked which ones are my favorite. I could have tweeted a couple quick examples, but the request emphasized my reasoning so I thought a blog post a better answer.

How To Improve Science Teaching

I’ve been asked to teach a class at Hunter College this Spring for the New Visions-Hunter Math and Science Teacher Residency program. The class is titled Pedagogical Content Knowledge II: Biology Education. This is the second in a series and I will be running teacher workshops covering evolution and ecology. The first series covered molecular biology and genetics. The teacher learners are enrolled in the M.A. program in the Education Department at Hunter through the Teacher Education Program in Adolescent Biology (Grades 7-12).

DNA Barcoding Summer Workshop

I just wrapped up a five day DNA barcoding workshop for high school students that was part of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s series of summer enrichment programs. You can find out more about the program over at But before I get into my experience running the workshop, first a short digression about education. Do college students drop out of science because science is hard, or because they are unprepared for college STEM classes by their high school coursework?