Welcome to the Fall 2023 Harvard Informatics Introduction to R workshop!

This web page will guide you through some of the activities we have planned for you today!


Adam Freedman: A bioinformatics scientist in the FAS Informatics group at Harvard University.

Gregg Thomas: A bioinformatics scientist in the FAS Informatics group at Harvard University and recent postdoc at the University of Montana where he studied the phylogenetics and comparative genomics of the mouse and rat radiation. He got his PhD at Indiana University where he worked on comparative genomics of arthropods, mutation rate evolution in primates, and convergent evolution using comparative genomics. In general, Gregg uses and develops computational methods to study molecular evolution and phylogenetics to determine what forces drive divergence and adaptation between species.

Lei Ma received her PhD from the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. Her dissertation focused on the ecology of marine microorganisms in coral reefs and in Atlantic killifish. She is particularly interested in genotype-environment-microbiome interactions in animal hosts, such as the influence of host evolution on its microbiome. Other interests include mentoring, finding coding shortcuts, cats, video games, sci-fi, and knitting.

Tim Sackton: Director of the FAS Informatics group at Harvard University.

Workshop Summary & Outline

This workshop aims to introduce first-time users to the R programming language and the RStudio development environment. We will provide a basic introduction to coding in R and then shift to data manipulation using the tidyverse, a set of R libraries designed to handle data tables in a consistent and easy way. Then, we'll learn how to generate some basic plots to explore our data using ggplot. You do not need any prior programming experience to take this workshop. But also note that this workshop is not a comprehensive programming class nor a comprehensive statistics class. The main goal of this workshop is to get you familiar with reading your data into R and performing basic operations and generating figures.

Here is a brief outline of the topics we'll be covering:

Day 1: Introduction to R

Wednesday October 18th, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Biolabs room 2062/2064
  • Opening RStudio and learning about its interface
  • Executing R commands in the Console
  • Writing an R script
  • R objects and object types

Day 2: Introduction to the tidyverse

Friday October 20th, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Biolabs room 2062/2064
  • Installing the tidyverse
  • Tibbles
  • Filtering and manipulating data tables (tibbles)
  • Piping

Day 3: More tidyverse and introduction to ggplot

Wednesday October 25th, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Jefferson Building room 453
  • Grouping and summarizing data
  • Generating basic plots with ggplot
  • Aesthetic & layers
  • Various plot types

Day 4: More on ggplot

Friday October 27th, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Location: CGIS South, S050
  • Various plot types
  • Colors and grouping data
  • Multi-panel figures

Click the Get Started link below to read some info before class. Additional links to resources will appear for each day of the workshop.

Get Started