R in Latin America

February 4, 2018
By

(This article was first published on Blog on FORWARDS, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Following on from our post on R in Africa this
next post in the series looks at the R community across Latin America.

Conferences

As the use of R has grown in Latin America, there has been an increasing demand
for local R conferences. The community has responded and a number of conferences
are planned for the coming months.

International Seminar on Statistics with R

One of the first to spot the demand was Luciane Alcoforado, a professor at the
Fluminense Federal University (UFF) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Realizing there was
no large R event in Brazil, she set about coordinating the first International
Seminar on Statistics with R (SER: Seminário Internacional de Estatística com
R
), which was held in Niterói in May 2016.



Luciane Alcoforado, Coordinator of the first SER

More than 250 people attended this pioneering event, with attendance balanced
across academia and industry. Encouraged by this success, the I SER organizers
ran the event again in 2017, with an expanded program and similar numbers
attending.



Sean Kross presents remotely at the first SER

A third edition, III SER, is now planned for
May 22-24, 2018, to be hosted again by UFF in Niterói, Brazil.
On the first day, 8 mini courses will
be run, aimed at both practitioners and students. This year most of the
international guests come from the USA and England. They include
Jesse Mostipak, Becky Pattinson, Garreth Maccray, and Gabriela de Queiroz.
These guests will present alongside invited speakers from the local region. There
will also be thirty selected contributed talks and a poster session with
awards for the best three of each. It’s a huge opportunity to get your research
known. The last conference day will close
with a tribute session to Prof. Djalma Pessoa who was a pioneer R user
in Brazil.

Registration to III SER and the mini-courses is open now and the call for papers
is open until March 23 2018.

R Day

A second event in Brazil, R Day, will take place at the Federal University of
Paraná (UFPR), Curitiba, on May 22, 2018. The Statistics Department at UFPR was one
of the first in Brazil to adopt R as the standard programming language
for statistics teaching, in 2002. It was also the first institution
to host a CRAN mirror in the country, and started
the R-br mailing
list
in 2011, which now has
more than 1000 subscribers.

The R Day is organized as a satellite event of the 63rd RBRAS
meeting
(Brazilian Region of the
International Biometric Society), and is endorsed by the R Foundation to further
develop the academic R community in Brazil. There will be three keynotes, 9 oral
presentations, and 8 tutorials, aimed at both users and developers. The
main goal is to be community-driven, so anyone can
submit proposals for oral presentations and/or tutorials (only the three
keynote speakers will be invited by the organizers).

The aim of R Day is to gather the vast R community in Brazil, by
offering the possibility for users and developers to show their work and
exchange experience on all sorts of R subjects. Proposals for oral
presentations and tutorials are open until April 04. The registration is
free and can be made until April 22.

For more information and updates, registration and proposal forms,
checkout the R Day website, and follow us on
Facebook and
Twitter.



R Day logo (left), Curitiba Botanical Garden (top right), and UFPR
historical building (bottom right)

satRday Bogota

The first Latin American chapter of the one day conference series satRdays will
take place in Bogota, Colombia in August 2018. The focus of the conference will
be about tidy concepts applied to data visualization. It is organized by
Datasketch, a Data Journalism Portal for Latin America.

The main goal of the conference is to create a common space for interaction
among newbies and experts in R. Special interest will be given to works created
by or for underrepresented communities and to showcase different solutions
developed using R for the different elections that are happening in 2018 in
different Latin American countries.

There are tentative plans for a workshop session the day before with hands-on
tutorials about:

  • Data visualization and common mistakes.
  • Data structuring and preparation: PDFs, Databases and API’s.

A website containing more details will be available soon.

LatinR

On October 25, 2017, an announcement was made by Heather Turner on the RUG
Organizers Slack: the R Foundation Conference Committee would like to see
academic-focused R events in regions not currently covered by useR! In less than
a week, a group of Latam R-Ladies were organizing their first conference-call to
start thinking about how this challenge could be achieved. This quick response
was not the result of mere chance, but the consequence of a year in which the R
community — both RUG and R-Ladies groups — grew stronger in South America. By
mid November everything was set-up: a name, a place, a date, and a motivated
international organizing committee.

LatinR 2018 will be held in Buenos Aires on September 4-5 within the 47th
Argentinian Meeting of Informatics and Operational Research (JAIIO), which is
organized by The Argentinian Informatics Society (SADIO). With a diverse and
renowned Scientific Committee, this two-day event aims to bring together
researchers, students, and R-enthusiasts from different backgrounds in order to
strengthen the R community and make the impact that R is having in the region
more visible, in both academic and non academic contexts.

For more information about oral presentations & poster submission, keynotes, and
workshops, you can check out the LatinR website or
follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @LatinR2018.

ConectaR 2019

In 2019, it is Costa Rica’s turn: ConectaR 2019 will
take place in San José. The event has the endorsement of R Foundation and will
be hosted at the University of Costa Rica (UCR). ConectaR has
an organizing committee comprising members of academia
(School of Statistics,
Pure and Applied Mathematics Research Center (CIMPA)),
public research centers (The Development Observatory,
Bioversity International (CGIAR))
and industry (ixpantia). ConectaR will have two keynote
speakers (yet to be confirmed) and will be receiving proposals for oral
presentations and posters starting April 2018. In addition to that, there will
be tutorials, invited talks, and a job fair. An attendance of over 150 people is
expected, with the goal of building a community of R users in the Central
American Region.

Other Initiatives

R/Bioconductor Latin American Developers’ Workshop

In recent years, biology has seen a rise in the use of technologies that enable
high-throughput, quantitative, data-rich profiling of cellular states. As a
result, the field faces computational challenges to analyse such data. The
R/Bioconductor project is an open source, open
development software platform that provides tools to translate complex data sets
into biological knowledge. An R/Bioconductor workshop will be held in
Cuernavaca, Mexico on July 30 – Aug 3, 2018.

The workshop is aimed at students and researchers interested in the analysis of
biological data. We encourage applications from diverse disciplines, including
but not limited to biologists, bioinformaticians, data scientists, software
engineers and programmers. The main goals of the workshop are:

  1. Teaching participants the principles of reproducible data science through the
    development of R/Bioconductor packages.
  2. Turning bioinformatic software users into bioinformatic software developers.
  3. Fostering the exchange of expertise and establishing multidisciplinary
    collaborations.
  4. Creating a community of Latin American scientists committed to the
    development of software and computational pipelines for biological data
    analysis.
  5. Helping to train bioinformatics instructors that can continue to grow in
    their local communities.

This workshop is part of a long-term project to create a community of developers
from Latin America. We hope to hold regular meetings in the future (similar to
BioC, EuroBioc and
BioCAsia) where attendees present their
own software contributions.

A website containing more details will be available soon.

Local groups

Beyond conferences and workshops, local groups provide a venue for R users to
meet more regularly. Jumping Rivers provide a
user group directory,
which also covers R-Ladies groups, however as R-Ladies are expanding rapidly it
is worth checking the
R-Ladies Starter Kit
for the latest status.

Recently members of the RUG and R-Ladies groups in Bogota, Columbia collaborated
on a striking intervention about feminicides in Colombia using plots created in
R. Read more on their initiative in
this report
(warning: readers may find the content distressing). This is an example of
how local groups can work together on wider issues as well as providing
networking and development opportunities for their members.

Making Connections

Part of building the community in Latin America is making connections between
disconnected groups. If you think we have missed something, or you would like to
be involved in plans for future events in the region, let us know in the comments
or contact us on email or Twitter.

Banner image shows the poster session at I SER.

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