Kevin McElwee
Machine Learning Engineer | Data Journalist

Hello there!

I am optimistic about the possibilities of applied mathematics, particularly machine learning, to inform debate and serve the public good. I currently work at Princeton University in the Center for Digital Humanities, helping professors and students develop their data-driven research projects. Before Princeton, I worked in the energy sector, building machine learning models that increase efficiency on the electrical grid.

I'm always open to helping organizations and journalists with their technical projects! I'm currently doing business as Brown Analytics, LLC. If you're a non-profit or business, check out how my research has helped utilities save money. If you're a journalist, here are my news apps, analyses, and traditional clips. Here's some algorithm research for the CS-inclined. And I'm actively looking for opportunities to volunteer my technical skills to non-profits supporting LGBT rights.

Feel free to reach out for more information! My email is kevinrmcelwee at gmail.

Featured Projects

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Introduction to Twitter Scraping and Analysis with Python

A collection of web scraping case studies, exercises, tutorials, and resources for Princeton University's 2021 FSI summer course Humanistic Approaches to Media and Data.

The Fortune 100 & Black Lives Matter

A dataset of Fortune 100 tweets during 2020 BLM protests reveals corporate America's awkward relationship with social justice.

Fake-follower calculators misinform users, journalists with dubious statistics.
The third-party Twitter apps aren’t built to be used on accounts with millions of followers. Of course, that’s what users did anyway.

Fake-follower calculators, especially a platform called Twitter Audit, have been cited by a number of news outlets, including The Telegraph, Vanity Fair, and the Columbia Journalism Review. But these platform’s statistical techniques are far from rigorous for large accounts.

Where to pitch, based on data from the website, Who Pays Writers?
In partnership with the Columbia Journalism Review.

The website WhoPaysWriters.com was founded in 2012 as a public, anonymous forum for freelancers to share their experiences working for publications. An analysis of the site's data confirmed some of our presumptions about freelancing: it can be hard to make a living simply writing. But it also revealed that pay is going up at a greater rate than inflation, that the publications with the biggest names don’t always treat their freelancers the best, and that contracts, in a multi-platform era, are getting a lot more complex.

An algorithm for multiplicative persistence research.

How we can expand our search limits, orders of magnitude faster than the naĂŻve approach.

Does Scrabble Need To Be Fixed?
An experiment in controlling how much of Scrabble is luck.

Joshua Lewis, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego, conducted a statistical study to show that there are "lucky" tiles in Scrabble, and suggested updated values. I conducted my own tests to see if Lewis’ values really make Scrabble more fair in practice. In short, they don't.

Using neural nets to make the electrical grid more efficient
The smallest error can lose utilities thousands of dollars in a single day. Deep learning can help make sure that doesn’t happen.

I've developed a three-part guide to peak shaving with neural networks.

Bots to brighten the Twitter hellscape.
Mondrianify Bot

(Currently in development.) A twitter reply bot that transforms images into paintings by Piet Mondrian




Cuteness Bot

Follow a bot that posts the cutest content from Reddit.

Tracking migration of Princeton University alumni
Though conflicted, small-town University students are fleeing to cities
January 26, 2018

Each year, the University enrolls around five or six students from Kansas, four or five from Kentucky, and three or four from Idaho. However, five years after graduation, no one from the Class of 2012 has returned to any of those states. Nearly a quarter of the Class of 2012 is living in New York City.

Reporting from Moscow
The Kremlin and opposition leaders are vying for Russia’s youth vote
December 6, 2017

Four waves of protest — in March, June, October and November of 2017 — brought thousands of Russians into the streets to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin and a corrupt Russian government. The citizens fueling these protests? Mostly young people.



Where are the US and Russia finding common ground? Low Earth Orbit
August 17, 2017

Americans and Russians working on the International Space Station tend to turn a blind eye to terrestrial snafus that divide their respective countries.