Jessica A. Rick

PhD Student | University of Wyoming | PopGen & Evolutionary Biology

TAFIRI R Workshop 2018

This past week, fellow Wagner Lab PhD student Jimena Golcher-Benavides and I had the opportunity to teach a 3-day R workshop for scientists from the Tanzanian Fisheries Research Institute (TAFIRI). The workshop comes out of a collaboration between the Wagner Lab and TAFIRI Kigoma, and was taught at the TAFIRI facilities in Kigoma, Tanzania. We had 21 researchers attend the workshop, who traveled to Kigoma from TAFIRI stations all over the country. We were also joined by guest instructor Masumbuko Semba, PhD student at the University of Dar es Salaam. Most participants had little to no previous exposure to R, but all were eager to learn.

Previously, I thought R was just a part of the alphabet; but now, I know that it is a powerful tool to help me with my research, and I look forward to learning even more.
— R Workshop Participant
Beautiful bags for the participants, designed by fellow instructor Jimena.

Beautiful bags for the participants, designed by fellow instructor Jimena.

We spent a busy three days covering the basics of R and R Studio, from setting a working directory to importing and exporting data, to finally plotting and running statistics on those data. As instructors, it was an incredible experience to share our own knowledge of this powerful statistical software in an effort to provide these researchers with a tool to bring their research to the next level. Participants came early and stayed late, often continuing to work through coffee and lunch breaks in a desire to make as much progress and learn as much as possible from the short workshop.

Participants hard at work learning R.

Participants hard at work learning R.

Though each participant went through struggles and frustrations along the way, every single person had a smile on their face as they shared their pride in their accomplishments during presentations on the last afternoon. They encouraged each other to "practice often" so that they don't forget the things they learned, and there was resounding agreement to one participant's closing remarks that he wished for a week of such learning, rather than our short three days together.


This workshop was co-funded by TAFIRI and a grant to CE Wagner from the National Science Foundation. Jimena and Jessica were funded by grants from the University of Wyoming Center for Global Studies (JGB), Program in Ecology (JGB), and NASA Space Grant Consortium (JAR).