Statistics is applied philosophy of science.

Overview & Goals

Fall 2015 Syllabus

We have learned huge amounts in biology by doing experiments which generate clear and simple results. But many parts of biology are governed by smaller effects, which are sometimes hard to measure exactly. For example: Does an amino acid substitution change the efficiency of an enzyme? Do female frogs prefer mates with lower-pitched croaks? Does the chance of developing diabetes depend on your genotype at a specific locus? To answer these kinds of questions, we have to use statistics, not only to decide on our answer, but also to make some determination of how much we believe it. To actually use those statistics, you need two things: understanding of the theory behind the statistics and the ability to apply them. To that end, the primary goals of the course are:

Meeting Time & Location

Lecture MWF 11AM-12PM, 100 Park Science Center Lab Tues 1-4PM, 10 Park Science Center


The Analysis of Biological Data, Second Edition by M Whitlock and D Schluter

Also recommended:
R Cookbook by P Teetor
R Graphics Cookbook by W Chang

Course Lab Instructions and Tutorials

Installing R and RStudio

First Steps with R

Working with Data Frames

Matrices and Lists

Plotting in R

Lizard Lab

Abalone Lab

External Resources


Try R
An online introduction to R that runs in your browser. Nothing to install, and a goofy pirate theme.

An R package for learning about R from within R. You can install and run this on your own computer, which is good for getting used to the RStudio interface. A number of modules are available, including both basic and more advanced tutorials.

DataCamp Another online tutorial, with a number of different courses for different levels of learning. Free at first, but they ask you to pay at some point. They also have a beta version of a tutorial that uses Swirl as above, and the RStudio interface, but runs entirely in the browser: DataCamp Swirl

Online learning resources from RStudio


Quick R

RStudio Documentation

R Markdown Documentation

R Cheatsheets Particularly handy are the Data Wrangling (dplyr and tidyr) and Data Visualization (ggplot2) sheets. You may also find the R Markdown Cheatsheet and Reference Guide helpful to have. (note: PDF links)

ggplot2 Documentation

dplyr introduction