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The R Consortium Needs Your Help with satRdays

By Blog

The September Call for Proposals is now open, and the Infrastructure Steering Committee would like to encourage proposals from the R Community to upgrade the software infrastructure supporting the satRdays program. 

What we need is for someone to take the existing underlying software (the Hugo templates) and upgrade it so that it is easier for satRdays conference organizers to spin up websites of their events and have the websites and other artifacts generated by the individual events become part of the main satRdays site

At a minimum this will require using the existing materials to develop Blogdown or Quarto website conference templates and updating the documentation.

However, we would also like to encourage some creative thinking regarding additional features that would make the satRdays site even more useful to the R Community.

The Call for Proposals closes October 1, 2022.

Taking on Virtual Events with Regular Structured and Casual Meetups ☕️

By Blog

The R Consortium recently interviewed John Blischak and Tim Hoolihan with the Cleveland R UseR Group. The organizers share more about how the group managed to continue to grow with consistent structured and casual virtual events like their Virtual R Café.

John Blischak is a Freelance Scientific Software Developer in the Cleveland area. John has been co-organizer of the Cleveland R UseR Group for several years and has continued to do research and uses R regularly. In his free time, John enjoys spending time with family, reading, and learning foreign languages.

Tim Hoolihan is a Practice Lead at Data and Analytics at Centric Consulting. He has a traditional software background and uses R often for his work projects. In his free time, Tim enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, and practicing the guitar.


Why did you get interested in learning R?

John: For my undergraduate research project in molecular biology, I was paired with a graduate student to analyze gene expression microarrays. He used R and Bioconductor to perform the analysis. I knew if I wanted to continue to do this type of research, I needed to learn R myself. I needed it for my research; it has always been very practical.

Tim: I have a traditional software background. I don’t remember my first exposure to the R language, but I often use it for my work. 

What is the R community like in Cleveland/Independence, Ohio?

Tim: It is quite active! Our members come from all across Northeast Ohio. The UseR group is around 10 years old now, and has been consistently well attended.

John: We are continuing to grow. People of all skill levels have joined wanting to get involved. We haven’t had an in-person meeting since April 2021, however, our online events have been consistent. We’re always looking for new speakers, regardless of experience level. Newcomers are often hesitant to present, but a newcomer’s perspective is invaluable to others that have just started learning R. We are looking for a way to start transitioning back to in-person events in 2023.

Are there any industries in particular that are more active in the R community?

John: I think the 2 largest groups are academics and business folks. The academics come from the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western, and other local universities. The business analysts apply R to generate insights into finance, marketing, etc. Two larger local companies with R users are Progressive Insurance (also a sponsor of our group) and American Greetings.

Tim: We cover a broad range of practitioners including medical, insurance, manufacturing, academia, and other fields. 

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

John: It has had its pros and cons. By meeting virtually, we’ve been able to greatly expand our presenters and attendees far beyond the Cleveland area. But, of course, it’s hard to replace the in-person experience in virtual-only settings. Recording in-person events helped the switch to virtual and made it a lot easier. Even before covid, we would record and upload our talks to our Youtube channel, some videos receive over 800 views, which is good in our community. This also makes it easier for those who can’t attend to be kept up to speed with what is happening in the meetup. 

Tim: We have managed to continue to offer virtual meetups regularly. Being virtual meant we could reach out to speakers all over the world to talk to the group.

We did see some zoom fatigue, though. We wanted to offer something more interactive rather than the standard presentation and questions format. We came up with Virtual R Café, which gives members a chance to hang out with other R coders for a bit. It will be informal with no set topic. It is more interactive and casual for members to connect. Our next Virtual R Café will be on September 10th, 9 AM EDT. 

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

John: We got a pro zoom account! Tim also had the idea to start our Virtual R Café series, which is just a casual hangout on the second Saturday of the month. As opposed to meetups with a presentation, these events give members more time to get to know each other and share their experiences with R. 

Tim: We also use the meetup page and mailing list to share updates and announcements. There is also a GitHub organization to share items during presentations.

John demonstrating the OmicNavigator (https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/OmicNavigator/index.html). OmicNavigator is an R package for organizing, sharing, and exploring the results of genomics experiments.

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

John: Our most unique “Cleveland R” talk was when we had Evan Tachovsky present on how he used R to create the maps in his book Maps of Cleveland (video). 

Tim: My favorite recent presentation was Max Kuhn on TidyModels https://www.meetup.com/cleveland-user-group/events/273725112/

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

John: The biggest trend I’ve not noticed is how R integrates with other tools in the data science ecosystem. For example, someone who has started using Python for data science is interested in what they can do with R. Or a business analyst that primarily uses a tool like Power BI or Tableau wants to start leveraging the power of R.

Tim: This is more of a long-term trend but the difference between tidyverse and non-tidyverse programming has become a recurring theme. On the integration side, there are more and more projects that seem to be combining R with other tools.

Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members? If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?

John: I’m not aware of any data journalism in the Cleveland area, but from nearby in Columbus, I know that Lucia Walinchus at Eye on Ohio used R to analyze the data for her story How Much are you Overpaying in Property Tax? She shared her experience in her talk at SatRday Columbus 2020.

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium,  do you have a favorite project?  Why is it your favorite?

John:  I have lots of favorites! R-hub from Gábor Csárdi has become essential for me as a way to conveniently test my R packages on many different operating systems. I occasionally get the rare error on Solaris, and R-hub is my only option for fixing this. I also love the SatRdays project founded by Stephanie Locke. I co-organized SatRday Columbus 2020 and 2021 (both virtual of course). Lastly, I appreciate all the work that Jeroen Ooms has done recently to make it so easy to install R on Windows.

Of the Active Working Groups, which is your favorite?  Why is it your favorite?

John: The one I am following most closely is the R7 project. All the current OOP frameworks have their tradeoffs, so I’m curious to try what they develop.

Tim: The Distributed Computing project is interesting in the age of so many cloud and distributing computing platforms. In addition, I think the R Certification project fills an important need.

When is your next event? Please give details!

John: We’re excited for our upcoming guest speakers in Sep and Oct:

  • Matt Dupree on Sep 28th: Metaprogramming in R
  • Meghan Harris on Oct  26th: Data validation with pointblank

How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 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. We are now accepting applications!

Financial Industry Supports Robust Vienna R Community

By Blog

R Consortium recently talked to Mario Amau, co-organizer of the Vienna<-R about the lively R community in Vienna. The group is committed to providing its members with valuable talks and networking opportunities. The group is looking forward to restarting their live events, now hybrid, in September!

Mario Amau is the Founder and CEO of Quantargo, which offers data science training and consulting with a strong focus on the R programming language. He has been involved with the Vienna <- R Group since 2015. Vienna <-R was first founded by co-organizer Walter Djuric in 2011.


What is the R community like in Vienna?

MA: The community in Vienna is big and diverse. There are three different data science community groups which include Vienna <- R, Vienna Deep Learning Meetup, and Vienna Data Science Group. The Vienna <- R Group often has members from all of these groups joining, and those in the financial industry participate more often in these meetups. 

Many of the people joining the group are professionals looking to network and learn from one another. We have had several successful meetups, including one with over 100 people attending! 

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

MA: Prior to COVID, we had many in-person events at the University of Vienna and then we moved our venue to the University of Technology Vienna. Because of COVID, we have had a hard time getting people the same value they would when attending in-person events. We had virtual events on a monthly/semi-monthly basis, however, this had to be put to pause. We do see our members wanting to connect in person and are seeing more enthusiasm in people. We are hoping to bring back our events, aiming for September!   

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

MA: We have used Zoom for our virtual meetings. The only problem with that was getting the sessions out for members to be able to view if they did not attend. The process of recording and editing took quite a lot of effort. We then tried Youtube Live, which has actually been making the process a lot smoother since we get our sessions recorded and easily make them available for members to view afterward. Having the speaking sessions recorded and published are definitely valuable and worth the effort for future events!

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

MA: We had Hadley Wickham present on Pivoting data from long to wide while he was vacationing in Vienna. It was pretty cool to see members of the global community joining us in Vienna. He brought in great energy and had a very interesting style of presentation. Another interesting presentation was a statistics-based talk on the CRAN party package by Achim Zeileis.  

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

MA: When people give talks, many use packages like Rmarkdown and tidyverse in their presentations, which come out very visually appealing. I have seen an increase in people asking about other systems like Python and Julia for reporting data. However, these questions don’t really lead anywhere and are more general discussions about the tools. 

Do you know of any data journalism efforts by your members? If not, are there particular data journalism projects that you’ve seen in the last year that you feel had a positive impact on society?

MA: I have actually been approached by journalists about using R for visualization, however, I personally am not as involved. I do have an ex-colleague of mine who does a lot of his data journalism efforts using R. The Austrian newspapers seem to not use R as much or at all. 

When is your next event? Please give details!

MA: We have not set an exact date, but we are planning on hosting our next hybrid event in September at the Talent Garden here in Vienna. Follow us on Twitter for more updates!


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 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. We are now accepting applications!

How a Local Community Produced the First Nation-wide R useR Group

By Blog

The R Consortium recently interviewed Szilard Pafka with the Real Data Science USA R Group (formerly known as the Los Angeles R User Group). The former Los Angeles R useR Group had been based in Los Angeles for more than 10 years, but after organizer Szilard moved to Texas, he kept the group going and even expanded!

Szilard caught up with the R Consortium, a year after transitioning from an organizer of a single meetup group to now a national Meetup with members all over the United States and the world!


What is the biggest difference between running an R User Group in Texas compared with California?

SP: The R Group – Real Data Science USA Meetup (formerly Los Angeles R User Group before moving to Texas in July 2021) is still a meetup group with only online events as of August 2022. Therefore, running it from Texas is in many ways similar to running it during the first year of the COVID pandemic in LA. Being virtual for a while has also reached a wider audience (meetup members) from other US states and even internationally. To serve this new community, the focus of the meetup group will be online events for the foreseeable future.   

What are the pros and cons of bringing local community events to a broader virtual audience? 

SP: The main pros are being able to reach a larger audience and also having access to a larger pool of speakers. Over the last 15+ years, I have built a large network of personal connections in the data science field, and more than half of them are from the R community. However, most of these great people are from outside the Los Angeles or Houston areas and therefore it was not as easy to have them committed to travel and come to speak at the meetup. 

With going virtual (actually not by design, but by the necessity imposed by Covid) the effective pool of speakers I can invite to talk at the meetup (and will also accept/come) has increased by a factor of 10. This is because the cost of “travel” to give a talk has decreased dramatically. This increased pool of speakers also leads to an ever-increased quality of talks (I have always preferred and focused on quality vs quantity, but now we can do even better). Some additional smaller pros of going virtual are also less work with setting up (e.g. no need to have a place hosting the event), though this R Group has always been lucky in having very generous and readily available hosts. Also, fewer people complaining about the lack of their favorite pizza flavor or free parking (just kidding 🙂). 

Being virtual has of course some cons as well. The biggest one is not being able to do a proper networking session after the talk(s). Having been able to interact with fellow R users over a pizza or some beer was one of the key components of the R user group and one of the most enjoyable and useful benefits. I have countless stories about friends who made new acquaintances during these networking sessions or who managed to get a new job this way.

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what the topic was and why was it so interesting?

SP: Our last event was a talk “A Decade of Using R” by Gergely Daroczi. The talk was just as impressive as the title sounds! Gergely is a well-known figure in the R community and has tremendous knowledge and experience with using R in real life. In this talk, Gergely shared with us several real-world projects he had worked on over many years at several companies, most of them along the line of using R in production. Numerous components of his work were not particularly specific to a given problem or company and therefore he was able to share them publicly as general R packages (most of them on CRAN) (e.g. his logging package). He also gave us a peek into using R along with other technologies in production back in the heydays when these tools were rougher on the edges. Overall, Gergely’s talk not only gives lots of insights into many aspects of using R in production, but it is also fun to watch. It is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ze-zf_-viE.

Check out the Real Data Science USA R Group Youtube Channel

What are your plans for the group for the coming year?

This year, I’ve been busy with other kinds of projects, but this coming year I’m committed to doing more for this R Group and organizing more events. I already have the next event in mind, and it is again along the lines of using R in real-world projects / in production, also with an industry leader speaker (for now a secret). In fact, the “Real Data Science” in the meetup group’s name shows the commitment to exactly those kinds of topics (knowledge most relevant to practitioners).

When is your next event? Please give details!

I can’t give the specifics yet, but follow me on LinkedIn and/or Twitter (@SzilardPafka) and you will find out first hand.


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 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. We are now accepting applications!

R-Ladies Taipei Hopes to Host Hybrid Events in the Future

By Blog

Kristen Chan of R-Ladies Taipei talked to R-Consortium about the unique pandemic situation in Taiwan. Originally, Taiwan was able to keep the pandemic under control, so the group was able to continue to host regular in-person events. The rise in COVID-19 cases in recent months in 2022 has forced the group to switch to online events. The group hopes to host hybrid events in the future, as online events have helped more people to attend their events with ease.

Kristen is a Data Scientist and co-organizer of the R-Ladies Taipei. She finished her Bachelor’s and Masters in Statistics and is currently working as an Azure Technical Trainer at Microsoft.


What is the R community like in Taiwan? Can you name a few industries using R in Taiwan?

We have two R communities here in Taiwan: R-Ladies Taipei, which I host, and the Taiwan R User Group. For the Taiwan R User Group, we meet every Monday and the R Ladies Taipei meetups are on the last Monday of every month. In our group, we not only talk about R but also about Machine Learning and Data Analysis. We are open to any topics that someone wants to discuss.

R is very popular in Taiwan and almost all industries use R like Telecom or Journalism. Many people also use Python and some people use a combination of these languages. 

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

From the beginning of the pandemic, the situation in Taiwan was under control. It was a unique situation in the world as we could meet normally and all our events were in person. Unfortunately, in recent months, the situation has gotten worse and we are just switching to online events. We prefer meeting in person because the events are a lot more interactive that way. For now, we will have to rely on Zoom, Teams, or Google Meet for our meetings. But once things get better, we would like to go back to in-person events.

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

We have only recently started using some new techniques like meeting tools, sharing tools, and discussion forums for our group. For discussions, we are using our Facebook group and for video conferencing, we are using Microsoft Teams. We have a GitHub repository for our group, but we only use it when we have a big event. Usually, speakers share data in their own GitHub repositories. We do not have a dedicated YouTube channel as we do not record all the talks. Whenever a speaker is comfortable, we record and upload that talk on one of the organizer’s YouTube channels.

I think that even after the pandemic has settled, we will still use video conferencing as it makes it very convenient for everyone to attend events. Even though Taiwan is a very small place, having online events has helped us significantly increase our reach. We would like to host Hybrid events in the future with some people attending in person and some people joining us online.

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting?

We had a SatRday event last year, and we invited Yihui Xie from R Studio to give a talk. It was really great having someone from R Studio speak to the Taiwan R community. I really hope that we get the opportunity to host more speakers from the R Studio for our events. I would like to take this opportunity to invite speakers from around the globe to join us and help beginners in our group grow.

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

I think there are many people who are using other programming languages. At R Ladies Taipei, we are committed to promoting R, and we will continue to highlight the benefits of using R through our events.

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium,  do you have a favorite project?  Why is it your favorite?

I think it is Setting up an R-Girls-Schools Network because at R Ladies Taipei we want more girls to code confidently.

When is your next event? Please give details!

We have scheduled our next event for August 29th, which is titled “Natural Image synthesis with privacy protection”. 


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 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. We are now accepting applications!

From Novice to Industry Professionals, the East Bay R Enthusiasts Welcomes Everyone

By Blog

R Consortium recently talked to Allan Miller with the East Bay R Language Enthusiasts Group about the group’s history and success in environmental and health industries. The group aims to reach new R users and remains committed to creating a welcoming learning environment. 

Allan has been a member since the group was first formed in 2008. He has been teaching in the Data Science Certificate program at UC Berkeley Extension since 2009. Allan has also been teaching R for 13 years and enjoys teaching students from all over the world. When he is not teaching, Allan is an avid road cyclist.


What is the R community like in the East Bay?

The East Bay R Enthusiasts group was started by Jim Porzak in 2008. It grew out of the D-Lab, a data support center for graduate students doing quantitative research at UC Berkeley. At that time there was an established R users group, the Bay Area useR, which often met in the South Bay.  We soon realized the East Bay community was large enough and that getting to meetings in the South Bay was a drawback for R users in the East Bay and San Francisco that we could start our own user group centered in the East Bay. 

There is a general tendency in user groups to drift towards the most technical level which can be rather intimidating for new users.  The East Bay R Enthusiasts has always focused on new R users. We have aimed to create an environment that is comfortable for new learners but also meaningful for experienced R users. Today, we have a very large R community here in the East Bay with almost 2,000 members in our Meetup. 

Who comes to these meetups? What industries do you see more in the East Bay?

We have people from all backgrounds, but many who attend our meetings are working professionals from Berkeley and the East Bay.

They have many attendees who work in the environmental and healthcare industries, for example, lots of employees from Kaiser, whose regional office is located in Oakland.  We also still get graduate and undergraduate students from UC Berkeley. 

First meeting at Tolman Hall on Campus (University of California, Berkeley 2012)

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Prior to Covid-19, we held monthly meetups.  Like many other groups, we haven’t met in person in almost two and a half years, since the start of the pandemic! We tried starting up a year ago but noticed there was a lot of Zoom fatigue. We are hoping to get back into action this year. 

In the past year, did you have to change your techniques to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

We used Zoom, it is great for getting speakers from outside of the Bay Area. Usually, our talks include a presentation by an invited speaker followed by a question and answer session and announcements. 

What trends do you see in R language affecting your organization over the next year?

Over the years, we have seen a bigger than ever R community. Data science has become multilingual with python and Julia being used and is showing more integration with these programming languages and environments. But our meetups are still focused on R.

Some members used RMarkdown to make really nice presentations that are visually appealing. 

When is your next event? Please give details!

We will meet again this Fall.  Be sure to sign up to our Meetup list to receive notifications for future meetings! 


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 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. We are now accepting applications!

Community Call to Action for ISC Grant Proposal Ideas

By Announcement, Blog

Every year, The R Consortium Infrastructure Steering Committee (ISC) conducts two cycles of calling for proposals and awarding grants for projects that will enhance the technical infrastructure of the R ecosystem in a way that will benefit a significant portion of the R Community. The second 2022 ISC “Call for Proposals” will open on September 1st. 

With this post, the ISC would like to solicit ideas from the greater R Community about areas where it is important to extend R’s capabilities, or perhaps to identify new frontiers for R. Are there applications in the Arts, Business, Climate Science, Engineering, Epidemiology, Finance, Geology, the Humanities, Insurance, Mathematics, Medicine, Music, Numerical Analysis, Sociology, Virology, Zoology or any other field that would enhance R in a way that would be meaningful to a significant portion of the R Community or significantly grow the R Community?

If you are a software developer we certainly want your ideas, and we hope that you will respond to the Call for Proposals when it opens. However, if you are not yourself able to undertake a software development project, but feel strongly that R needs to reach into your area of expertise, we want your ideas too!

The R Consortium and the ISC would like to help the R Community to set out a vision for the long-run growth of R. If together we could reach a consensus on areas where building out R’s capabilities would make a difference, we may be able to match ideas with skills and over time fund a significant amount of meaningful work.

Please help us by opening issues for your ideas in the https://github.com/RConsortium/isc-suggestions GitHub repository.

Online Event – Design and Analysis of Experiments with R Syntax

By Blog, Events

The Osun R Users group in Nigeria will be hosting a two-hour Zoom class webinar on Design and Analysis of Experiments with R Syntax! 

Register Today!

Dr. Ayubu Anapapa Okango with the Department of Mathematics and Actuarial Science at the Murang’a University of Technology, in Murang’a, Nigeria, and Timothy A. Ogunleye, lecturer with the Department of Statistics at Osun State University, in Osogbo, Nigeria, will be hosting and facilitating the webinar.

In this seminar, the speakers will cover 

  1. One-Way ANOVA (Completely Randomized Design – CRD)
  2. Two-Way ANOVA Randomized Complete Block Designs without interactions
  3. Randomized Complete Block Designs with interactions – Factorial Experiment
  4. Post-Hoc Analysis of all these scenarios 

This webinar is aimed to help those studying R to better understand the design and analysis of experiments using R syntax as well as using R to better respond to a variety of problems that can arise.

Join Dr. Ayubu Anapapa Okango and Timothy A. Ogunleye on Aug 29, 2022 from 11am-1pm (WAT) / 1pm-3pm (EAT). Register now!

Namibia R Users Group: Fostering the Budding R Community in Namibia

By Blog

R Consortium recently talked to Tuli Amutenya of the Namibia R Users Group about the challenges of starting a group during the pandemic. She shared the struggle of keeping the audience engaged during online events and reaching out to people. The group aims to cater to the individual needs of the R community in Namibia and also form strong collaborative ties with other R User Groups in the region.

Tuli is a Data Analyst with a background in Data Science and Management. She co-founded the Namibia R Users Group earlier this year.


What is the R community like in Namibia? Can you name a few industries using R in Namibia?

The R community in Namibia is fairly new. We just launched our group in April and have since hosted three events. So far the turnout has been quite encouraging and the gender balance is also good. Seeing an equal number of male and female participants in our sessions was heartwarming. At least 40 percent of the participants so far are totally beginners and have not used R at all. The rest of the percentage comprises graduate students. Our events have been online so far.

What are the challenges of hosting online events as a new group? How do you plan to overcome these challenges?

It is quite an immense challenge, especially in areas where people are not accustomed to using online platforms. Luckily for us, it has already been two years since we got into this situation. People are now more used to meeting and communicating through online platforms. 

The actual challenge now is to keep the audience engaged throughout the session. We have also been able to overcome this challenge and now the only challenge that remains is reaching out to the audience. We announce our events on Twitter, but most people are not on Twitter. People in Namibia are not much into social networks, so we have created a database of participants for the launch. We send out emails to this list and so far that has been effective. 

But yes, I don’t think meeting itself is a bigger challenge than reaching out to people through social media platforms.

What are the techniques you are using to connect and collaborate with members? For example, did you use GitHub, video conferencing, online discussion groups more? Can these techniques be used to make your group more inclusive to people that are unable to attend physical events in the future?  

So far we have been using Microsoft Teams for webinars. We also have a GitHub account where we put material from our online events and share the link with the participants. We have also been recording our sessions, but we have not uploaded them online. Since we just started out, we are discussing how to carry on and use other means of communication.

Can you tell us about one recent presentation or speaker that was especially interesting and what was the topic and why was it so interesting? 

I think I would like to mention our launch event. For our launch, we were sponsored by Kevin O’Brien through the Why R? Foundation for the Zoom Account to host the webinar. The keynote speaker was Dr. Heather Turner. So that was great.

Presentations from our launch event were quite interesting. We collaborated with Nairobi R Users Group and R Ladies Nairobi, who facilitated the event. They gave guest presentations to provide information about the R community and various possibilities for collaborations and engaging other communities. They also guided us about access to a lot of online materials and provided examples of package designing in R. 

So I think ‌those presentations were quite useful for the audience, especially those who are beginners. It was also very encouraging for us as a new community to know that there is a community out there we can reach out to for support and collaboration. 

Of the Funded Projects by the R Consortium,  do you have a favorite project?  Why is it your favorite?

All the projects are very practical and are affecting different areas of the community. For me personally, the ones related to spatial data analysis are quite interesting. For example, the Google Earth Engine with R is quite exciting, especially for those of us who love to use both the tools. It gives more people the opportunity to use free imagery and do heavy computing and data visualization in R.

How has your experience of organizing this group been? What are your plans for the coming year?  

It’s amazing and we can see that there’s quite a lot of interest in the community. Since we have just started hosting events, people are still coming out from both industry and academia. So it’s really encouraging to see this. 

We plan to set up a structured calendar to invite and collaborate with groups in the region. We have already collaborated with Nairobi R and R Ladies Nairobi for our launch. Now we have contact with R-Ladies Gaborone and Eswatini R User Group and there is a conversation about collaboration. We really want to branch out to the region and invite speakers or presentations from different community areas, especially in Africa. 

So as we are going, we are getting to know our audience and creating a more intimate community. We want to learn how we can best support one another and grow. We are really excited to be a part of the R community.  

When is your next event? Please give details!

So far, we plan to host the fourth tutorial session on Introduction to Data Visualization. It will be online and scheduled for the 20th of August.


How do I Join?

R Consortium’s R User Group and Small Conference Support Program (RUGS) provides grants to help R groups around the world organize, share information and support each other. We have given grants over the past four years, encompassing over 65,000 members in 35 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. We are now accepting applications!

From the R Business Working Group – R is for actuaRies

By Blog

Originally posted in the RStudio R Community blog, written by Dr. Maria Prokofieva, professor, Victoria University Business School, Australia, and works with CPA Australia. Dr. Prokofieva is a member of the R / Business Working Group which is promoting the use of R in accounting, auditing, and actuarial work. More information on R Consortium Working Groups can be found here.

What is actuarial science?

Actuarial data science lies at the intersection of math and business studies, combining statistical knowledge and methods from insurance and finance areas. Compared to data scientists, actuaries focus more on finance and business knowledge, while still collecting and analyzing data.

The profession is in high demand, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is expected that actuary jobs will a enjoy 24% increase from 2020-30. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. Moreover, the median salary for an actuary is estimated to be over $100,000.

The focus of the field is on assessing the likelihood of future events, particularly in business settings (especially finance and insurance) to plan for outcomes and mitigate risks. With this in mind, probability analysis and statistics are applied to very many areas, such as predicting the number of children for a health insurance or the payout of the life insurance policy. Some common tasks for actuaries include calculating premium rates for mortality and morbidity products, assessing the likelihood of financial loss or return, business risk consulting, pension and retirement planning, and many more. Basically, actuaries perform any tasks that include risk modeling, be that in insurance, financial planning or energy and environment. 

Read the full article here