Sam Church


shchurch @ twitter, github

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I am an National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow, working in the Dunn Laboratory at Yale University. Previously, I was a graduate student at Harvard University, under the direction of Dr. Cassandra Extavour. My research centers on evolution, insects, eggs, and software development. I also teach free English classes to adults.


Insect eggs and ovaries


Insect lay eggs of all shapes and sizes. I study the evolutionary history of eggs across insects, asking questions like:

Our work was recently published in the journal Nature.

For a deep dive on insect egg shape and size, check out our custom visualization

I also study the organ that makes insect eggs: the insect ovary. Our recent publication found that variation in the structure of ovaries across insects rivals the diversity of the eggs they produce.

Hawaiian Drosophila


Millions of years ago, Drosophila fruit flies found their way to the Hawaiian islands. Now there are many hundreds of species found on Hawaii and nowhere else in the world.

I study the relationships between these species, focusing on the their diversity in egg shapes. In this project I take advantage of the fact that we know more about fruit fly genetics than perhaps any other animal, due to the closely related model organism, Drosophila melanogaster.

Phylogenetic software and methods


Phylogenies are hypotheses about the relationships between organisms. Working with Casey Dunn and Joe Ryan, we wrote software to statistically compare phylogenies.

We call our software sowhat, feel free to check it out, and reach out if you need any help using it.

In my current research at Yale University, I study how phylogenies can be used to understand high-dimensional data in evolutionary and developmental biology, especially big datasets of gene expression that are emerging from single-cell and spatial RNA sequencing.

In this work, I advocate for building robust null hypotheses that describe how much variation we expect to observe when we compare between species.

Free English for Adults


I previously ran the Boston-Cambridge English program for adults. These classes primarily serve Portuguese and Spanish speaking adults at all English proficiency levels.

Boston-Cambridge English Class

Contact, Publications

Google Scholar Profile