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The Impact of R on Academic Excellence in Manchester, UK

By Blog

The R Consortium recently spoke with the organizing team of the R User Group at the University of Manchester (R.U.M.). R.U.M. aims to bring together R users of all levels to share R best practices, expertise and knowledge. The group is open to all staff and postgraduate researchers at the University of Manchester, UK.

During the discussion, the team shared details about their recent events and their plans for this year. They also discussed the latest trends in the R programming language and how they are utilizing it in their work.

Martín Herrerías Azcué
Research Software Engineer
University of Manchester
Lana Bojanić
Researcher PhD Candidate
University of Manchester
Rowan Green
PhD Student in Evolutionary Microbiology 
The University of Manchester

Please share about your background and involvement with the RUGS group.

Martin: My name is Martin, and I joined the University of Manchester a year ago. They assigned me to manage the R user group, which was previously under Camila’s leadership. Although I am officially in charge, this is a collaborative effort between all of us who are present in this meeting, along with some others who couldn’t join. I work in Research IT and mainly use R for projects assigned to me by other people.

Anthony: My name is Anthony and I work at Research IT with Martin at the University of Manchester. I first came into contact with R when I was a student. Later, I became a helper at many of the university’s R training courses based on the Carpentries training courses. Camila, who was Martin’s predecessor, was also a trainer at R and she formed the R Users Manchester group. I volunteered to help her with the group a year ago, and it just turned a year old. After that, I continued to be a part of the group.

Lana: Hi there, my name is Lana. I am a PhD student and research assistant at the Division of Psychology and Mental Health at the University of Manchester. I have been using R for the past six years, ever since my Master’s degree. I have been a part of the group since its inception and have been running R introduction sessions for beginners within my division for a couple of years now. When I learned the group was being formed, I contacted Camila a year ago. This makes us founding members of the group. 

Rowan: Hello, my name is Rowan Green. I am currently a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. For my research work, I use R extensively for simulation modeling bacteria, analyzing lab data, and creating visualizations. The best thing about using R is that it produces much prettier visualizations than other options available to us as biologists. We have a lot of master’s and undergraduate students coming through the lab. I often give them pre-written scripts they can tweak to create their plots. It’s exciting to see them working hard to produce their plots.

Camilla mentioned starting a group to share knowledge about R on a university-wide level. I found this a great opportunity to participate and learn from others’ presentations during the meetings. It has been an enriching experience so far.

Can you share what the R community is like in Manchester? 

Anthony: In industries such as banking and finance, R is frequently used to create graphs to showcase econometric data in an easy-to-understand manner. The graphical capabilities of this programming language make it a popular choice in these fields. The university we’re in has access to the Financial Times, which is known for producing visually stunning graphs. Interestingly, they also use an R package called FT plot tools, which is a specialized package solely for their use. So, it’s safe to say that R has a significant presence in the banking and finance sectors. 

Are your meetups virtual or in-person? What topics have you covered recently? What are your plans for the group in the future?

Martin: Our events are a mix of in-person and online meetings. There have been talks about developing packages, data visualization, automating reports, and working with tables. We usually cover topics we are confident about or know people from the university are working on. However, we are also trying to get external speakers to come and talk. It’s challenging, but we are doing our best to make it happen. We are currently accepting proposals from potential speakers.

Our book club has mostly or completely taken place online.

Lana:  Bookclub was mostly online. During the summer book club, we were reading R for Data Science. We covered a chapter or two chapters each time. We had the book’s second edition, and people from all over the university joined the club.

We were discussing the possibility of changing the format of Tidy Tuesdays. We received feedback that people don’t have enough time to come up with something extra creative every month. Additionally, there has been a need for more practice. Therefore, we plan to redesign Tidy Tuesdays to be more practice-oriented than creativity-oriented. We will be implementing these changes this year.

Anthony: We’ve recently had several discussions on useful packages, particularly in R. Some packages that were developed and published were custom-made. We also had presentations on the cosinor and cosinor2 packages, which are used for fitting curves, and an R update package for validating clinical prediction models.

There are two other R groups in Manchester. Our aim for this year is to establish communication with them and collaborate in a coordinated manner. (Editor’s Note: We recently talked with the Manchester R User Group.) Currently, our group solely focuses on the internal R community at the University of Manchester.

Any techniques you recommend using for planning for or during the event?

Rowan: I’m not sure if everyone would agree with me, but I think we did well in the format of our meetings. We started with brief, brief talks – within an hour – followed by questions and discussions, which worked well. 

However, the harder part has been promoting and informing people about the meetings. Sometimes, word of mouth has been more effective than emails and posters. I noticed that they were interested in attending when I encouraged my lab group, who all use R. But without any scheduled reminders and someone to encourage them, it may be difficult to get people to come.

Lana: It’s important to identify everyone’s strengths or specialties within the organizing group, as they will probably be useful in the first few events. After that, you can expand your network within the community, which is easy to do since people are easily reachable. This will allow you to find interesting topic ideas and strengths to draw from.

What trends do you currently see in R language?

Martin: I’ve noticed a growing interest in Shiny lately, as I manage a pilot server for the university and have seen an increase in users over time. There have also been several inquiries about using R within our high-performance computer cluster, which may be something we can offer to the university. This interest is not surprising, given the current hype around machine learning.

A trending area that applies to multiple platforms, not just R, is towards reproducible research and compatibility between different programming languages. This means that R can be integrated with Python and other languages to create a documented and integrated pipeline. I’ve been experimenting with SnakeMake, which works well with R, but it would be great to see more integration from the R side, perhaps through the common workflow language or another similar tool.

Please share about a project you are currently working on or have worked on in the past using the R language. Goal/reason, result, anything interesting, especially related to the industry you work in?

Rowen: Recently, I wrote a preprint of a paper where we simulated the growth and mutation of bacteria using differential equations and R programming language. To perform the simulation, we utilized high-performance computing, which enabled us to simulate various ways the bacteria could grow by adjusting the rates of reactions occurring within the cells. This simulation required high-performance computing to be feasible for running multiple simulations.

After running simulations, we came up with some ideas to test in the lab. Our focus was on measuring mutation rates, and we used statistical analysis to estimate them through R. We have been striving to ensure reproducibility, and as a result, we have annotated all the data tables and R scripts with the paper.

It has been an interesting journey for me. I had to tidy up my messy scripts and think about how someone else would perceive them. I had to ensure they made sense. However, the project was fascinating as I generated hypotheses using R, tested them, and analyzed and visualized them with the same tool. R is a complete tool that can handle all aspects of the process, making it a brilliant choice.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups organize, share information, and support each other worldwide. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 68,000 members in 33 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute.

EARL Early Bird Tickets Are Now Available!

By Announcement, Blog, Events

Contributed by Abbie Brookes, Senior Data Analyst at Datacove

Datacove is pleased to announce the availability of tickets for the upcoming EARL (Enterprise Applications of the R Language) conference. 

The EARL conference is a cross-sector event that will be held at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. This venue promises to provide attendees with a blend of Victorian elegance and modern conference facilities over three days, from the 3rd to the 5th of September 2024. The conference schedule includes high-quality workshops on the first day (3rd September) and two days of presentations and talks (4th – 5th September). An evening networking event is planned for the 4th of September at the British Airways i360 venue, offering attendees the opportunity to connect with peers and speakers in a relaxed setting.

We are offering tickets at a reduced early bird rate. Additionally, we provide discounts for government employees, NHS staff, charity workers, academics, and those making bulk purchases. For more detailed information on ticket pricing and discounts, contact Abbie Brookes at abbie.brookes@datacove.co.uk.

The EARL conference draws attendees from across the globe and from a variety of sectors. Previous participants have included notable organizations such as The Dogs Trust, BBC, Microsoft, Swiss RE, Posit, Sainsburys, and Bupa.  

This year’s keynote speakers include:

Professor Andy Field, known for his contributions to statistics education
Christel Swift, a senior data scientist at the BBC
Hadley Wickham, a key figure in the R community and author of the Tidyverse

In addition to the main conference, a selection of pre-conference workshops will be available, offering in-depth training opportunities. For more information on the conference venue, schedule, and registration, please visit our website. We invite you to join us for what promises to be an informative and engaging event for the R and Python communities

R/Medicine Coming June 10-14, 2024 – Call for Abstracts Open – Keynotes Announced

By Announcement, Blog, Events

The R/Medicine conference provides a forum for sharing R based tools and approaches used to analyze and gain insights from health data. Conference workshops provide a way to learn and develop your R skills. Midweek demos allow you to try out new R packages and tools, and our hackathon provides an opportunity to learn how to develop new R tools. The conference talks share new packages, and successes in analyzing health, laboratory, and clinical data with R and Shiny with a vigorous ongoing discussion with speakers (with pre-recorded talks) in the chat.

Register now!

Stephanie Hicks

Statistical Challenges in Single-Cell and Spatial Transcriptomics

Thursday, June 13

Biography

Stephanie Hicks, PhD, MA and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, is an applied statistician working at the intersection of genomics and biomedical data science.

Gundula Bosch

Reproducibility in Medical Research

Friday, June 14

Biography

Gundula Bosch, PhD, MEd ’16, MS, is a scientist and educator leading global education reform through training programs in critical, broad, and interdisciplinary scientific thinking. She is the director of the R3 Center for Innovation and Science Education at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Keynote Addresses

Call for Abstracts

R/Medicine is seeking abstracts for:

  • Lightning talks (10 min, Thursday, June 13, or Friday, June 14) Can pre-record so that you can be live on chat to answer questions
  • Regular talks (20 min, Thursday, June 13, or Friday, June 14) Can pre-record so that you can be live on chat to answer questions
  • Demos (1 hour demo of an approach or a package, Wednesday, June 12) Done live, preferably interactive
  • Workshops (2-3 hours per topic, Monday, June 10, or Tuesday June 11, usually with a website and a repo, participants can choose to code along. Usual 5-10 min breaks each hour.
  • Posters for poster session on Wednesday, June 12. Can include live demos of an app or a package.

Confirmed Workshops (Monday, June 10, and Tues, June 11)

Note: Final dates and times TBD. More workshops being added. Check the R/Medicine website for updates.

  • Causal Inference with R – Lucy D’Agostino and Malcolm Barrett
  • Tidying your REDCap data with REDCap Tidier – Stephan Kadauke and Will Beasley
  • Next Generation Shiny apps with bslib – Garrick Aden-Buie

Register here!

The R/Medicine website is being updated as we receive the latest information. Please check in again soon!

Unlocking Financial Insights: Join Us at the R Finance Conference

By Announcement, Blog, Events

Are you ready to delve into the world of finance through the lens of R? Look no further than the R Finance Conference (May 18, 2024,  University of Illinois Chicago) – your gateway to cutting-edge insights, advanced methodologies, and unparalleled networking opportunities. As an enthusiast of data-driven finance or an R programming aficionado, this single-track, one-day event promises to be an enlightening experience. R Finance is the must-attend event in the realm of financial technology.

Registrations are now open! Register here. 

A Glimpse into History

Founded in 2009, the R Finance Conference quickly evolved into the premier event in the financial technology landscape. Originating from the shared enthusiasm of R users in the Chicago financial center, a group of loosely connected enthusiasts was seeking to improve financial analysis. From its humble beginnings to its current stature, it remains committed to fostering knowledge exchange and driving advancements in R-based finance.

Why Choose a Single-Track Event?

One distinctive feature of the R Finance Conference is its single-track format. Unlike multi-track conferences, where attendees must choose between concurrent sessions, a single-track event offers a shared group experience. Single track offers:

Focused Learning:

Attendees can fully immerse themselves in each session without the distraction of conflicting schedules. This focused approach enhances learning and ensures that participants extract maximum value from every presentation.

Enhanced Networking:

The single-track format encourages interaction among attendees as everyone gathers in the same sessions. This facilitates meaningful discussions, idea exchange, and networking opportunities with like-minded professionals, fostering a sense of community and collaboration.

Comprehensive Coverage:

By following a single track, attendees gain exposure to a diverse range of topics and perspectives within the realm of R-based finance. From quantitative modeling and algorithmic trading to risk management and data visualization, each session contributes to a holistic understanding of the subject matter.

Key Highlights of R Finance Conference

  • Expert Speakers: Renowned experts and thought leaders in finance and data science share their insights, best practices, and real-world experiences. In 2022, speakers included Matthew Dixon, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Math and Affiliate Professor, Stuart School of Business, Illinois Tech; Veronika Rockova, Professor of Econometrics and Statistics, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business and James S. Kemper Foundation Faculty Scholar; and Thomas P. Harte, Head of Fixed Income & Liquidity Strats at Morgan StanleyInteractive Workshops: Hands-on workshops provide attendees with practical skills and techniques to implement R-based solutions in their professional endeavors.
  • Networking Opportunities: Engage with industry peers, establish valuable connections, and exchange ideas during networking breaks, social events, and interactive sessions.
  • Exhibition Showcase: Explore cutting-edge technologies, tools, and services offered by exhibitors and sponsors, offering valuable insights into the latest innovations in financial technology.

Join Us at R Finance 2024

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to elevate your finance skills and network with industry leaders at the R Finance Conference 2024. Reserve your spot today and embark on a transformative journey in R-based finance.

For more information and registration, visit R Finance Conference.

Register now!

Empowering R Enthusiasts: SatRDays London 2024 Unveiled

By Blog

SatRDays London 2024 is set to ignite the data science community with a vibrant lineup of speakers and a rich array of topics ranging from survival analysis to geospatial data. This inclusive event, designed for R enthusiasts at all levels, emphasizes networking and collaboration amidst the backdrop of King’s College London’s iconic Bush House. Keynote speakers like Andrie de Vries, Nicola Rennie, and Matt Thomas bring unparalleled expertise, offering attendees a unique opportunity to deepen their knowledge and connect with peers. As a hub of innovation and learning, SatRDays London promises to be a cornerstone event for anyone passionate about R and its applications in the real world.

Register Now!

How does this year’s satRDays in London compare to last year’s event? What’s new and different?

After a successful SatRdays London in 2023, we are keeping the format the same, but with a whole new lineup of speakers! This year we’re excited to welcome: 

  • Andrie de Vrie – Posit
  • Hannah Frick – Posit
  • Charlie Gao – Hibiki AI Limited
  • Michael Hogers – NPL Markets Ltd
  • Matthew Lam & Matthew Law – Mott MacDonald
  • Myles Mitchell – Jumping Rivers
  • Nicola Rennie – Lancaster University
  • Matt Thomas – British Red Cross

Talk topics for the day include survival analysis, geospatial data, styling PDFs with Quarto and using R to teach R, as well as a range of other exciting themes! The talks can reach a varied audience from aspiring data scientists right to the experienced audiences.

Take a look at the full list on the conference website for more information.

Who should attend? And what types of networking and collaboration opportunities should attendees expect?

Anyone and everyone with an interest in R! The SatRdays conferences are designed to be low cost, to allow as many to attend as possible, and they’re on a SatRday, so you don’t have to worry about getting time off work if your job isn’t necessarily R focussed.

Networking is the main focus of the event. We have multiple coffee breaks to give attendees the opportunity to interact with fellow R enthusiasts. If you’re brand new to this kind of event, and are not sure where to start, don’t worry! Find one of the attendees from JR, and we’ll be happy to help you make introductions! 

Can you share some insights into the keynote speakers, their areas of expertise, and how they will contribute to the overall experience at SatRDays?

At this year’s event, we have talks from three invited speakers – Andrie de Vries of Posit, Nicola Rennie from the University of Lancaster and Matt Thomas of the British Red Cross.

Andrie is Director of Product Strategy at Posit (formerly RStudio) where he works on the Posit commercial products. He started using R in 2009 for market research statistics, and later joined Revolution Analytics and then Microsoft, where he helped customers implement advanced analytics and machine learning workflows.                 

Nicola is a lecturer in health data science based at the Centre for Health Informatics, Computing, and Statistics at Lancaster University. She is particularly interested in creating interactive, reproducible teaching materials and communicating data through effective visualisation. Nicola also collaborates with the NHS on analytical and software engineering projects, maintains several R packages, and organises R-Ladies Lancaster.

Matt is Head of Strategic Insight & Foresight at the British Red Cross. His team conducts research and analysis to understand where, how and who might be vulnerable to various emergencies and crises within the UK.                  

Could you elaborate on the types of sessions and workshops available and how they cater to different interests and skill levels within the R community?

The day will consist of eight 25-ish minute talks, plus Q&A, from a variety of speakers across various sectors. 

The talks are on a wide range of topics. For example, last year we had speakers talking about everything from using R for mapping air quality, to EDI and sustainability in the R project, and why R is good for data journalism. If you want to take a look at what you can expect, we have a playlist of last year’s talk recordings available on our YouTube channel.

With the event being hosted at King’s College London, how does the venue enhance the experience for attendees, both in terms of facilities and location?

We’re very excited to be partnering with CUSP London again this year, who provide the amazing Bush House venue at King’s College London. The venue is a beautiful listed building, right in the heart of London, only a few minutes walk from Covent Garden. 

Being in the center of London means easy access to multiple public transport links, both for national and international attendees!

The venue facilities and supporting technology provides a great space for sharing insights and networking.

Don’t miss out, register today!

Aligning Beliefs and Profession: Using R in Protecting the Penobscot Nation’s Traditional Lifeways

By Blog
Angie Reed sampling Chlorophyll on the Penobscot River where a dam was removed 

In a recent interview by the R Consortium, Angie Reed, Water Resources Planner for the Penobscot Indian Nation, shared her experience learning and using R in river conservation and helping preserve a whole way of life. Educated in New Hampshire and Colorado, Angie began her career with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, later joining the Penobscot Indian Nation. Her discovery of R transformed her approach to environmental statistics, leading to the development of an interactive R Shiny application for community engagement. 

pαnawάhpskewi (Penobscot people) derive their name from the pαnawάhpskewtəkʷ (Penobscot River), and their view of the Penobscot River as a relative guides all of the Water Resources Program’s efforts. This perspective is also reflected in the Penobscot Water Song, which thanks the water and expresses love and respect.  Angie has been honored to:

  • work for the Water Resources Program, 
  • contribute to the Tribal Exchange Network Group,
  • engage young students in environmental stewardship and R coding, blending traditional views with modern technology for effective environmental protection and community involvement, and
  • work with Posit to develop the animated video about Penobscot Nation and show it at the opening of posit:conf 2024

Please tell us about your background and how you came to use R as part of your work on the Penobscot Indian Nation.

I grew up in New Hampshire and completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of New Hampshire, followed by a Master of Science at Colorado State University. After spending some time out west, I returned to the Northeast for work. I began by joining the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Houlton, Maine, right after finishing my graduate studies in 1998. Then, in 2004, I started working with the Penobscot Indian Nation. Currently, I work for both tribes, full-time with Penobscot and part-time with Maliseet.

My first encounter with R was during an environmental statistics class taught by a former USGS employee, Dennis Helsel during a class he taught for his business Practical Stats. He introduced us to a package in R called R Commander. Initially, I only used it for statistics, but soon, I realized there was much more to R. I began teaching myself how to use ggplot for graphing. I spent months searching and learning, often frustrated, but it paid off as I started creating more sophisticated graphs for our reports.

We often collaborate with staff from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Region One (New England, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and 10 Tribal Nations). One of their staff, Valerie Bataille, introduced us to R Carpentries classes. She organized a free class for tribal staff in our region. Taking that class was enlightening; I realized there was so much more I could have learned earlier, making my journey easier. This experience was foundational for me, marking the transition from seeing R as an environmental statistics tool to recognizing its broader applications. It’s a bit cliché, but this journey typifies how many people discover and learn new skills in this field.

The Penobscot Nation views the Penobscot River as a relative or family. How does that make water management for the Penobscot River different from other water resource management?

If you watch The River is Our Relative, the video delves deeper into seeing the river from a relative, beautiful, and challenging perspective. This view fundamentally shifts how I perceive my work, imbuing it with a deeper meaning that transcends typical Western scientific approaches to river conservation. It’s a constant reminder that my job aligns with everything I believe in, reinforcing that there’s a profound reason behind my feelings.

Working with the Penobscot Nation and other tribal nations to protect their waters and ways of life is an honor and has revealed the challenges of conveying the differences in perspective to others. Often, attempts to bridge the gap get lost in translation. Many see their work as just a job, but for the Penobscot people, it’s an integral part of their identity. It’s not merely about accomplishing tasks; it’s about their entire way of life. The river provides sustenance, acts as a transportation route, and is a living relative to whom they have a responsibility. 

How does using open source software allow better sharing of results with Penobscot Nation citizens?

My co-worker, Jan Paul, and I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at posit::conf 2023   and working with Posit staff to create an animated video that describes what we do and how opensource and Posit tools help us do it.  It was so heart-warming to watch the video shown to all attendees at the start of conf, and was a great introduction to my shameless ask for help during my presentation and through a table where I offered a volunteer sign-up sheet/form, I was humbled by the number of generous offers and am already  receiving some assistance on a project I’ve been eager to accomplish. Jasmine Kindness, One World Analytics, is helping me recreate a Tableau viz I made years ago as an interactive, map-based R Shiny tool. 

I find that people connect more with maps, especially when it comes to visualizing data that is geographically referenced. For instance, if there’s an issue in the water, people can see exactly where it is on the map. This is particularly relevant as people in this area are very familiar with the Penobscot River watershed.  My aim is to create tools that are not only interactive but also intuitive, allowing users to zoom into familiar areas and understand what’s happening there. 

This experience has really highlighted the value of the open source community. It’s not just about the tools; it’s also about the people and the generosity within this community. The Posit conference was a great reminder of this, andthe experience of working with someone so helpful and skilled has truly reinforced how amazing and generous the open source community is.

How has your use of R helped to achieve more stringent protections for the Penobscot River?

Before we started using open source tools, my team and I had been diligently working to centralize our data management system, which significantly improved our efficiency. A major shift occurred when we began using R and RStudio (currently Posit) to extract data from this system to create summaries. This has been particularly useful in a biennial process where the State of Maine requests data and proposals for upgrading water quality classifications.

In Maine, water bodies are classified into four major categories: AA, A, B, and C. If new data suggests that a water body, currently classified as a lower grade, could qualify for a higher classification, we can submit a proposal for this upgrade. In the past we have facilitated upgrades for hundreds of miles of streams, however it took much longer to compile the data.  For the first time in 2018 we used R and RStudio to prepare a proposal to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to upgrade the last segment of the Penobscot River from C to B.  Using open source tools, we were able to quickly summarize data and compile data into a format that could be used for this proposal, a task that previously took a significantly longer time.  DEP accepted our proposal because our data clearly supported the upgrade.  In 2019, the proposal was passed and we anticipate this process continuing to be easier in the future.

You are part of a larger network of tribal environmental professionals, working together to learn R and share data and insights. Can you share details about how that works?

Jan Paul, Water Quality Lab Coordinator at Penobscot Nation, sampling in field

I’m involved in the Tribal Exchange Network Group (TXG), which is a national group of tribal environmental professionals like myself and is funded by a cooperative agreement with the Office of Information Management (OIM) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We work in various fields, such as air, water, and fisheries, focusing on environmental protection. Our goal is to ensure that tribes are well-represented in EPA’s Exchange Network, and we also assist tribes individually with managing their data.

Since attending a Carpentries class, I’ve been helping TXG organize and host many of them. We’ve held one every year since 2019, and we’re now moving towards more advanced topics. In addition to trainings, TXG provides a variety of activities and support, including small group discussions, 1-on-1 assistance and  conferences.  Although COVID-19 disrupted our schedule we are planning our next conference for this year.

Our smaller, more conversational monthly data drop-in sessions always include the opportunity to have a  breakout room to work on R. People can come with their R-related questions, or the host might prepare a demo.

Our 1-on-1  tribal assistance hours allows Tribes tosign up for help with issues related to their specific data. I work with individuals on R code for various tasks, such as managing temperature sensor data or generating annual assessment reports in R Markdown format. This personalized assistance has significantly improved skill building and confidence among participants and are particularly effective as they use real data and often result in a tangible product, like a table or graph, which is exciting for participants.  We’ve also seen great benefits, especially in terms of staff turnover. When staff members leave, the program still has well-documented code, making it easier for their successors to pick up where they left off. These one-on-one sessions.

Additionally, I’ve been involved in forming a Pacific Northwest Tribal coding group, which still doesn’t have an official name as it is only a few months old. It began from discussions with staff from the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) and staff from member Tribes. And I am thrilled to say we’ve already attracted many new members from staff of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC). This group is a direct offshoot of the TXG efforts with Marissa Pauling of NWIFC facilitating, and we’re excited about the learning opportunities it presents.

Our work, including the tribal assistance hours, is funded through a grant that reimburses the Penobscot Nation for the time I spend on these activities. As we move forward with the coding group, planning to invite speakers and organize events, it’s clear there’s much to share with this audience, possibly in future blogs like this one. This work is all part of our broader effort to support tribes in their environmental data management endeavors.  If anyone would like to offer their time toward these kinds of assistance, they can use the TXG google form to sign up.

How do you engage with young people?

I am deeply committed to engaging the younger generation, especially the students at Penobscot Nation’s Indian Island school (pre-K through 8th grade). In our Water Resources Program at Penobscot Nation, we actively involve these students in our river conservation efforts. We see our role as not just their employees but as protectors of the river for their future.

Sampling for Bacteria 

Our approach includes hands-on activities like taking students to the river for bacteria monitoring. They participate in collecting samples and processing them in our lab, gaining practical experience in environmental monitoring. This hands-on learning is now being enhanced with the development of the R Shiny app I’m working on with Jasmine, to make data interpretation more interactive and engaging for the students.

Recognizing their budding interest in technology, I’m also exploring the possibility of starting a mini R coding group at the school. With students already exposed to basic coding through MIT’s Scratch, advancing to R seems a promising and exciting step.

Beyond the Penobscot Nation school, we’re extending our reach to local high schools like Orono Middle School. We recently involved eighth graders, including two Penobscot Nation citizens, in our bacteria monitoring project. This collaboration has motivated me to consider establishing an R coding group in these high schools, allowing our students continuous access to these learning opportunities.

Processing bacteria sample

My vision is to create a learning environment in local high schools where students can delve deeper into data analysis and coding. This initiative aims to extend our impact, ensuring students have continuous access to educational opportunities that merge environmental knowledge with tech skills and an appreciation of Penobscot people, culture and the work being done in our program.

Over the years, witnessing the growth of students who participated in our programs has been immensely gratifying. . A particularly inspiring example is a young Penobscot woman, Shantel Neptune, who did an internship with us through the Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) Program a few years back , then a data internship through TXG and is now a full-time employee in the Water Resources Program.  Shantel is also now helping to teach another young Penobscot woman, Maddie Huerth, about data collection, management, analysis and visualization while she is our temporary employee.  We’re planning sessions this winter to further enhance their R coding skills, a critical aspect of their professional development. 

It’s essential to me that these women, along with others, receive comprehensive training. Our program’s success hinges on it being led by individuals who are not only skilled but who also embody Penobscot Nation’s values and traditions. Empowering young Penobscot citizens to lead these initiatives is not just a goal but a necessity. Their growth and development are vital to the continuity and integrity of our work, and I am committed to nurturing their skills and confidence. This endeavor is more than just education; it’s about preserving identity  and ensuring our environmental efforts resonate with the Penobscot spirit and needs.

Elevate Your R Community with the 2024 RUGS Grant Program

By Announcement, Blog

The R Consortium is rolling out its 2024 R User Groups (RUGS) Grant Program, and it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss. The program, which aims to foster vibrant R communities worldwide, is in full swing, and we are eagerly awaiting your application!

Apply here!

Why Apply and… For What?

User Group Grants: Boost engagement and initiate user-focused activities.

Conference Grants: Support for R-related events, either hosting or attending.

Special Projects Grants: Kickstart innovative projects with the potential to impact the R community.

With 74 active groups and a thriving community of over 67,000 members, the RUGS network is a hub of innovation and knowledge sharing. Your participation could be the next milestone in this growth journey.

Examples of some recent R Consortium sponsored RUGS activities:

Key Information

Application Deadline: September 30th, 2024. Don’t delay!

Eligibility: Open to initiatives aimed at community building, not software development (for that, see ISC Grant Program).

Be part of shaping the future of R. Visit here for more details and to apply. Your contribution matters to the global R narrative. Apply now, and let’s grow together!


For details and to apply, visit here.

Offa R Users Group: Empowering Data-Driven Education in Nigeria

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The R Consortium had a conversation with Anietie Edem Udokang, who is the founder and organizer of the Offa R Users Group (ORUG). He discussed the emerging local R community and the use of R for his research in time series analysis. 

The Offa R Users Group has a Meetup coming up on March 26th, 2024, titled “Test for the Assumptions of Linear Regression Using R.” The group is also seeking individuals to serve as guest speakers for their online events.

Please share about your background and involvement with the RUGS group.

My name is Anietie Edem Udokang, and I am a chief lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic Offa. I hold a Master of Science degree in Statistics. It was during my postgraduate studies that my supervisor introduced me to R, which was around 2012. Since then, I’ve been using R and have discovered that it’s far superior to some of the other software programs I had previously used.

I have found that interacting with others and utilizing specific features, such as the ability to download applications, has been incredibly beneficial to my analysis work. These special packages have helped me greatly, and I believe it is important to attach relevant packages when organizing data. This experience has made me passionate about using R for data analysis.

Ever since I began using R, I have had the privilege of engaging with a diverse group of individuals, including data scientists and software users. These interactions have led me to the realization that to continue growing and learning, it would be beneficial to establish a user group within our community. Initially, we called it the “Fedpofa R Users Group,” but later changed the name to “Offa R Users Group.” We have been organizing meetings, providing training, and engaging in other activities to keep the community vibrant.

Can you share what the R community is like in Offa?

R is not limited to academic use, but it is also used in industry. The reason for this is that polytechnics act as a bridge between the industry and academic institutions. If the students have a good grasp of how to use R, it means that industry will be directly or indirectly affected. Consultants often visit our ORUG and ask for some analysis, which we provide using R. Additionally, students also use R for their projects.

I use R for many of my publications. R has gained a lot of popularity, not only within our institution but also among sister institutions in the area. Some departments have even made R the only software that students are required to use for analysis. 

What industry are you currently in? How do you use R in your work?

I am in the education sector, and I use R for my work in time series analysis, which is my area of specialization. I rely on TSA, tseries and other related time series packages to carry out my work. For example, I used R for Modeling the Residuals of Financial Time Series with Missing Values for Risk Measures, which was my MSc project. I have also used R in the Application of the Seasonal Autoregressive Moving Average Model to Analyze and Forecast the Food Price Index (free registration required). Additionally, I used R in a paper titled “Volatility of Exchange Rates in Nigeria: An Investigation of Risk on Investment.” In another innovative project was Modelling Circular Time Series with Applications. These are just a few examples of the papers and research where I’ve personally used R.

You have a Meetup titled Test for the Assumptions of Linear Regression Using R, can you share more on the topic covered? Why this topic? 

Some authors use regression models without checking whether the assumptions hold or not. Instead of carrying out tests to confirm this, they assume that the model is valid if the assumptions are fulfilled. This topic aims to highlight the importance of carrying out such tests to ensure reliable and comprehensive results. Lack of adherence to the assumptions may lead to inaccurate conclusions. The focus will be on commonly used tests for normality, linearity, autocorrelation, heteroscedasticity/homoscedasticity, and multicollinearity, with illustrative examples using R.

I appreciate the R Consortium for their valuable RUGs grant assistance in 2022. With this grant, I could open two other user groups: the Ilorin R Users Group and the Kwara Environmental Statistics R Group. I also want to express my gratitude to the R Consortium for sponsoring my Meetup subscription and covering other minor expenses in 2022. The subscription is still ongoing, and I hope that we can continue our partnership to promote the use of R in our community. 

I would like to request for speakers to present at our R User Group. We are currently seeking speakers for our upcoming events and would be delighted to welcome speakers from all over the world to share their R-related knowledge with us.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups organize, share information, and support each other worldwide. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 68,000 members in 33 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute.

R-Ladies Goiânia: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Local R Community

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Fernanda Kelly, founder and organizer of the R-Ladies Goiânia, recently talked to the R Consortium about the group’s efforts to provide a learning and networking platform to gender and ethnic minorities in the local R community. She discussed the group’s successful transition to virtual events, which has helped increase its visibility and reach. 

Please share about your experience and involvement with the RUGS group.

My name is Fernanda Kelly, and I’m 28 years old. I graduated from the Federal University of Goiás with a degree in statistics. During my studies, I became familiar with the R programming language. However, it wasn’t until 2019 that I realized how underrepresented women and black people are in this field. This led me to establish a new R-Ladies chapter that same year to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry.

I worked as a statistician for 4 years at Hospital Moinhos de Vento, where I was involved in the Pfizer Project that analyzed the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil. After that, I worked as a Data Scientist at Accenture Brasil. I hold a degree in Machine Learning and an MBA from the University of São Paulo. Recently, I completed a specialization in project management, and I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Intelligent Systems and their applications in the Healthcare sector.

I have incorporated the R language extensively in my work and studies. Its versatility in interacting with other languages and its diverse range of tools for creating reports, such as R Markdown and Quarto, provide users with multiple ways to develop high-quality models and reports. I have used R for various tasks, such as modeling, data processing, manipulation, and writing with blogdown and R Markdown. R’s constant updates and information dissemination about its features have increased my usage of the language even more.

I haven’t been involved with the RUGS community lately, but I found out about the initiative on LinkedIn and thought, ‘Why not apply?’ Sometimes we hold ourselves back and don’t even consider applying for opportunities, but I applied this time and succeeded.

Our group is a chapter of the global R-Ladies community that strives to promote awareness of R programming language among individuals belonging to minority genders. We cover a broad range of topics helping facilitate individuals entering the job market. Some topics we cover include public speaking, mentoring on how to fill out LinkedIn, and occasionally Excel. We believe R programming goes beyond just coding and that is why we emphasize the development of soft skills as well. We view the community as a trainer of future professionals. To date, we have held over 40 meetings, and this year we plan to offer over 20 workshops. These workshops will cover an array of diverse topics, but our primary goal is to showcase the functionalities of the R programming language in comparison to other programming languages like Python.

I want to emphasize that the work I have accomplished for the R community since 2019 with R-Ladies Goiânia was not a solo endeavor. I have great admiration for the exceptional women I have walked alongside, and currently, I am fortunate to have Jennifer Lopes (a remarkable black woman) by my side since 2023, who has been helping me with R-Ladies Goiânia.

Can you share what the R community is like in Goiânia?

When I talk about community, I also refer to the city of Goiânia, located in the heart of Brazil, where the population is a mix of different ethnicities. The R community in Goiânia is huge, especially within the university. Many degree programs use R as their primary programming language. I fell in love with the power of the R during my undergraduate studies in statistics. However, during my master’s degree, I realized that there was a lack of representation for minority genders and ethnic groups. This led me to search for communities that catered to this audience. As a result, I discovered the R-Ladies community and founded the R-Ladies Goiânia chapter in mid-May 2019. Since then, the chapter has grown and reached out to many women, black people, and members of the LGBT community.

R language is widely used in Brazil across various sectors, including health, agriculture, and financial institutions. The primary reason for its popularity is the vast range of packages it offers and the structured control offered by CRAN, which enhances the language’s credibility and security.

Do you have an upcoming event planned? Can you share more about the topic covered? Why this topic?

We have an upcoming event planned which will be presented by Julia Helen, who lives in Rio de Janeiro. She is a statistician by profession and works as a data scientist at a large television station in Brazil. The meetup will cover the connection between R and Python. This event will take place on March 16th, and everyone is invited to attend. The primary focus of the meeting will be to teach R programmers how to use Python within RStudio effectively. By leveraging both languages, programmers will take advantage of their combined functionalities. The choice of this topic is because of the high demand among R programmers to learn about the use of Python and how to make both languages work seamlessly within RStudio.

Any techniques you recommend using when planning or during the event? (Github, zoom, other) Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive for people who may not be able to attend financial events in the future?

R-Ladies Goiânia is present on diverse networks, but we recommend using GitHub to access our course material. We have complete control over the material available on GitHub, and it helps participants gain knowledge on the platform, which is often required by companies in Brazil. We are currently using Zoom through the Sympla platform, which is free and offers many control options over the event. The platform allows us to manage registration, accept the code of conduct, and send certificates to attendees.

We have hosted our meetings online since 2020, and it has worked well for our group. In our meetings we have people from various states in Brazil and, sometimes, we have people from other countries participating. This is incredible and this way we can reach more people, making the chapter decentralized. We have already reached 100 people watching the Introduction to R meetup. All of our events are recorded, and this gives people who could not attend the live event and people in career transition the opportunity to access the content. Currently, our YouTube channel has more than twenty videos.

For the future, we are planning more accessibility, but we know how poorly developed the accessibility of broadcasting platforms is. R-Ladies Goiânia aims to achieve real diversity in its meetings and has been working towards this with campaigns on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. We are seeking innovation and managed to open a mentoring program, which is a big step for the chapter and we are extremely happy.

Please share about a project you are currently working on or have worked on in the past using the R language. Goal/reason, result, anything interesting, especially related to the industry you work in?

As I mentioned before, my most recent project involved using the R programming language to analyze the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in Brazil. The project was conducted in collaboration with Pfizer, a large pharmaceutical company, and the results have been published in an article titled “BNT162b2 mRNA COVID-19 against symptomatic Omicron infection following a mass vaccination campaign in southern Brazil: A prospective test-negative design study“. The code used for this project is available on my GitHub.

What resources/techniques do/did you use? (Posit (RStudio), Github, Tidyverse, etc.)

In this project, we utilized a range of techniques. R Markdown was the most frequently used tool for generating reports in both HTML and PDF formats. Apart from the tidyverse package, we also employed a variety of packages for analyzing PDF data (such as pdftools), data analysis (including lme4 and sampling), and data tabulation (such as reactable, DT, and qwraps2). We utilized GitHub solely to host the codes for the published article.

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups organize, share information, and support each other worldwide. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 68,000 members in 33 countries. We would like to include you! Cash grants and meetup.com accounts are awarded based on the intended use of the funds and the amount of money available to distribute.

ISC-funded Grant: Secure TLS Connections in {nanonext} and {mirai} Facilitating High-Performance Computing in the Life Sciences

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Contributed by Charlie Gao, Director at Hibiki AI Limited

{nanonext} is an R binding to the state of the art C messaging library NNG (Nanomsg Next Generation), created as a successor to ZeroMQ. It was originally developed as  a fast and reliable messaging interface for use in machine learning pipelines. With implementations readily available in languages including C++, Go, Python, and Rust, it allowed individual modules to be written in the most appropriate language and for them to be piped together in a single workflow.

{mirai} is a package that enables asynchronous evaluation in R, built on top of {nanonext}. It was  initially created purely as a demonstration of the reliable RPC (remote procedure call) protocol from {nanonext}. However, open-sourcing this project greatly facilitated its discovery and dissemination, eventually leading to a long-term, cross-industry collaboration with Will Landau, a statistician in the life sciences industry, author of the {targets} package for reproducible pipelines. He ended up creating the {crew} package to extend {mirai} to handle the increasingly complex and demanding high-performance computing needs faced by his users.

As this work was progressing, security was still a missing piece of the puzzle. The NNG library supported integration with Mbed TLS (a SSL/TLS library developed under the Trusted Firmware Project), however secure connections were not yet a part of the R landscape.

The R Consortium, by way of an Infrastructure Steering Committee (ISC) grant, funded the work to implement this functionality from the underlying libraries and to also devise a means of configuring the required certificates in R. The stated intention was to provide a user-friendly interface for doing so. The end result somewhat exceeded these goals, with the default allowing for zero-configuration, single-use certificates to be generated on-the-fly. This affords an unparalleled level of usability, not requiring end users to have any knowledge of the intricacies of TLS.

Will Landau talks about the impact TLS has had on his work:

“I sought to extend {mirai} to a wide variety of computing environments through {crew}, from traditional clusters to Amazon Web Services. The integration of TLS into {nanonext} increases the confidence with which {mirai} can be deployed in these powerful environments, accelerating downstream applications and {targets} pipelines.”

The project to extend {mirai} to high-performance computing environments was featured in a workshop on simulation workflows in the life sciences, given at R/Pharma in October 2023 (video and materials accessible from https://github.com/wlandau/rpharma2023).

With the seed planted in {nanonext}, {mirai} and {crew} have grown to form an elegant and performant foundation for an emerging landscape of asynchronous and parallel programming tools. They already provide new back-ends for {parallel}, {promises}, {plumber}, {targets}, and Shiny, as well as high-level interfaces such as {crew.cluster} for traditional clusters and {crew.aws.batch} for the cloud.

Charlie Gao, Director at Hibiki AI Limited