Data science is an emerging field that will transform how biological research is done, and impact how we teach biology. At this early stage, there are few resources and guidelines for teaching and infusing data science skills across biology (e.g. in bioinformatics, ecology, epidemiology, and cell biology).
What is data science? A recent report by the National Academies entitled Envisioning the Data Science Discipline discusses the development of data acumen, consisting of multi-dimensional skills and concepts, including quantitative reasoning, knowledge of and proficiency in the data life cycle, social concepts including ethics and reproducibility, and domain specific knowledge, which can vary wildly even within Biology.
Serenity is a free open-source web application, developed for educational purposes, designed around supporting faculty in building data acumen in their students. We will do a hands-on demonstration of some sample teaching modules developed for Serenity, analyzing real-world, messy biological data. Serenity was designed with the focus on the data first, and helps students through the full data life cycle: from direct data import from biological data repositories like NEON; to data exploration with interactive visualizations; to communication and reporting of results through interactive documents.
After demonstrating Serenity through pre-existing teaching modules, we will invite attendees to choose a dataset of interest, explore the dataset through data visualization and analysis, and present a simple report of their findings to the audience. As Serenity will also be designed as an authoring environment for teaching modules, a broader invitation will be given for faculty to participate in a longer term Faculty Mentoring Network through QUBES over the Spring 2019 semester, developing and implementing teaching modules through Serenity for their courses.
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