New Brown Bag Lunch Series

R logoGiven the interest in R amongst the faculty in every division and the increasing use of statistical and graphical analysis that it facilitates, we are now announcing a new series of informal Brown Bag Lunches for Faculty and Staff. (We’ll provide the cookies!)  These “Stats Lunches” will be a continuing opportunity to learn about R and the technologies that support and derive from that environment, along with a chance to discuss issues in the application of statistics tools in your research and teaching, amongst a friendly, supportive group of colleagues.  We will hold the first session on September 22nd, at Noon, where we’ll start with an overview of GGPLOT2, the graphical tool that’s part of the R suite, and helps folks make some amazing data plots and data visualizations.  We will then have plenty of time for discussion!  The series dates will be October 6th, November 17th, and December 1st, this semester. Please join us! Register here for the September session.

We’re also pleased to remind folks that we’ve acquired a number of seats for DataCamp (, which is an online learning platform for folks who’d like to get better with Data Science and Analysis using R and Python. The DataCamp material is primarily for R and Python development, and their courses are presented in a very coherent, clean, easily accessible environment that can help individuals develop their skills from the comfort of their own browser! You can get started immediately with the Introduction to R right away, for free.

Last week a second group of faculty and staff participated together in a short half-day workshop introducing them to R.  R is an open source integrated suite of software facilities for data manipulation, calculation and graphical display that is fast becoming the data analysis toolkit of choice across a number of disciplines, and has become the foundational data analysis software taught here at Swarthmore in introductory statistics classes. We had a lot of fun in a collegial environment in which Visiting Assistant Professor Lu Chen took us in a very organized way through the basics of the R environment using both the desktop and online versions of R Studio, which is an excellent but not necessary way to work with R. We were then able to continue the discussion with a very pleasant lunch from Panera.

RStudio provides a graphical interface, with a very flexible windowing system to manage your work in R, preserve code, data files and output. You can use R simply at the command line, and many of our most experienced R users will take that approach. Since Swarthmore has a license for R Studio Server, run on an Amazon Web Services instance, it’s a great way to make sure your students are all on the same version and have access to the same tools for teaching data analysis using R, and it’s a very consistent interface with the desktop version, which can be installed locally on your machine. Using the R Studio Server allows you to provide students with both a consistent version as well as the ability to provide them all with the same files and data sources. ( is the address, but please talk to one of your friendly Academic Technologists to get set up with an account, if you’d like to check it out!)

Please contact Doug Willen (, x-7787) for more information on the Brown Bag Lunches, on Datacamp, or to get started with R.

We’d also like to acknowledge the gracious support of the Office of the Provost!