R-Ladies Vitória: Use of R for Public Policy Decisions on Maternal and Child Health in Brazil

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The R Consortium recently talked to Agatha Rodrigues of the R-Ladies Vitória. Agatha talked about the growing R community in Vitória and stressed the importance of further promoting the use of R. She also shared her hopes to further the use of R in public policy and discussed her work with the Brazilian Obstetric Observatory during the pandemic.

Agatha works at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Sao Paulo University Medical School and is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Statistics at the Federal University of Espirito Santo. She got her Bachelor’s in Statistics from the Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil. She got her MS and Ph.D. degrees in Statistics from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

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

The R community in Vitória is growing and R is being used in academia and industry. In the health sector, R is being used for data analysis. An example is the Brazilian Obstetric Observatory (OOBr): I am OOBr Principal Investigator, and this project is R Ladies Vitoria’s partner. We use R for analyzing data regarding the maternal population during the current pandemic. 

In Vitória, people who study statistics use R, but people who come from other data science areas, for example, computer science, use Python. There are some industries and companies using R like PicPay, Autoglass, and Aguia Branca

I feel that there is a need to promote and incentivize the use of R in Vitória. Even though there are industries and companies using R in Vitória, there’s definitely room for improvement. 

How has COVID affected your ability to connect with members?

Initially, it was very difficult for us as we were really comfortable hosting in-person events. Having to shift all our meetings online was confusing in the beginning. As we continued, we got accustomed to online meetings and online discussion forums. We have now developed a delightful sense of community online where women are helping each other with R.

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 and Google Meet for our online events and Slack and WhatsApp for discussions and also for sharing different job opportunities. There is a repository for our group on GitHub. We uploaded our recorded sessions to the YouTube Channel for the Obstetric Observatory. We don’t have a dedicated YouTube channel for our group.

I think we will continue using these technologies in the future as well because they actually made our meetings more inclusive for women outside of Vitória. We would also like to host hybrid events.

Video ➡ Primeiros passos no R – ensinaR

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

In September 2022 we hosted an event Web Scraping in R presented by Ornella Scardua and it was really interesting. We talked about how you can collect data from the internet. Another interesting presentation was about Machine Learning in R. It was particularly interesting because it cleared the misconception for those that do not currently use R for Machine Learning.

Video ➡ Web Scraping in R

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?

An example of data journalism can be our work with the Brazilian Obstetric Observatory. During the pandemic, we analyzed the data for the maternal population that was hospitalized with COVID-19. We developed a shiny app to present this data. This led to pregnant and postpartum women being made a priority group for vaccination. 

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

I really liked Setting up an R-Girls-Schools Network. I love the idea that we can teach girls R from school. deposits: Deposit Research Data Anywhere is another interesting project, as it is very important to have a resource to deposit your research data. 

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

I really like the R/Business active working group as it is an area that I personally find interesting and would love to learn more about. 

When is your next event? Please give details!

Our next event is a workshop about using Python in R. In Vitória, the Python community and the R community are two important communities and we want people to learn how they can use a combination of these languages for their work. We have not finalized the date yet but all information will be available on our Meetup.

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

For the next year, we would like to have more events regarding the use of R for public policies. I think R can be an important tool for analyzing public data to facilitate decision-makers in devising better policies. We would love to promote the use of R for public policy in Brazil!

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!

The post R-Ladies Vitória: Use of R for Public Policy Decisions on Maternal and Child Health in Brazil appeared first on R Consortium.

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