Wednesday, January 11, 2017

R user group - UGRU

The last 2 years, I have "been running" a R User group, the University of Guelph R Users group (or UGRU). Normally I am the worst when it comes to acronyms, and now I was only bad, because UGRU has Gru in it, the main character of Despicable Me. During a field course, students compared my accent to Gru, and there is a scene in the movie that has its own meme: light bulb.

I hoped that be having people working together and solving similar problems would make the R light bulb go off. And last semester there were a lot of lightbulbs that lighted up. We worked through the first four chapters of the Grolemund and Wickham R for Data Science book, and I have convinced my first physiology colleague that R is awesome.

At the end of the semester, several participants shared their exploratory data analysis, and the word that kept coming up after they put their code together the meeting and the feedback and questions from the other participants was "surprise": patterns they had missed, variables not included, approaches not considered, etc. And this was a mix of people with years of coding in R to beginners. So the feedback and working together did lead to several light bulbs and happy R users!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Applying for non-faculty jobs - advice?

Every field is guilty of some form of navel gazing. Hence the abundance on how to apply for faculty jobs. Margaret Kosmala wrote a recentish blog post on this, with some advice I agree with, but also some I do not agree with. For instance, often departments fight over every single word in a job ad, so showing that you understand the needs that will be filled by the position (i.e., your contributions to the department and university) are important.
However, given one of my previous posts (see here), if only 10 percent of our graduate students end up in a faculty position, what resources, blog posts, advice, etc are out there for graduate students ready to make the transition?