Looker JOIN 2019

JOIN is Looker’s annual user conference. It’s a three-day event of user presentations, presentations by Looker employees, hands-on workshops, networking events, and a vendor fair. You know, conference stuff. This year, I attended as an invited presenter in the workshop section. Here are my highlights. My workshop on data documentation The Hands-On Labs were a series on 45 minute workshops with limited seats. Attendees were expected to have their own laptops and were guided through an exercise.

#rstatsnyc 2019

The fifth annual (and second for me) Rstats NYC conference happened on May 10th and 11th. You can see all the action on Twitter under the #rstatsnyc tag. Here are my key takeaways. Data Science Education at Amplify Ludmila Janda, a member of my team, presented on the work she is doing on a new series of computer science lessons. Alongside a team of curriculum developers, designers, engineers, and project managers, she has been the consulting subject matter expert for a unit about data analysis.

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. Hands-on Lab: Amplify, Looker and the Central Source of Truth Two hands-on workshops about using the Looker API to pull metadata out of the lookML layer and use that in documentation systems. at Looker JOIN 2019 conference 2019-11-06, 2019-11-07 Continuous Documentation with Blogdown Presentation on using blogdown to build a website for data documentation on top of a large data warehouse.

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 greatlabwebsites.tumblr.com. 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 DNAbarcoding101.org. 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?