Lecture 1: Introduction

September 6, 2022
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This is BioStatistics!

Let me state bluntly: I’m passionate about biostatistics, teaching this subject & interacting with students! And I hope that we can create a supportive and fun environment for you to develop strong skills in data analyses and data science applied to biology. You probably have noticed that all disciplines use statistics. As such, having a strong base in biostatistics will help you to do well in any field of your choice; including outside of Biology.

Statistics and its application to Biology is a rich and exciting field. Unlike many fields, statistics is everywhere and follows us in our daily lives. The way we make small decisions such as taking an umbrella or not is often dependent on statistics. Big drug trials too. Statistics also save lives! Human lives and non-human lives. It is everywhere! And Biology too is everywhere! And Biology also saves lives. So, what a great combination! But statistics requires a blend of subjective and objective thinking that forces our intellectual capacities in a great way! That is exciting but can also be to some overwhelming. Statistics is everywhere but not made available to everyone. Let’s change that. One of the most important aspects of Biology is variation among all components of life, among genes, single cells, behaviour among individuals, and differences among species, populations, communities and ecosystems. Understanding variance is key in biology! And Statistics is all about varition (and more mathematically speaking, about variance).

Don’t hesitate to let me know how to improve our course and this WebBook. That’s right, this is our course! You can create here a space to discuss your ideas and questions about biology and how to tackle these questions using statistics.

Statistical literacy

This article (by Milo Schield, Faculty at Augsburg College) discusses statistical literacy that touches on the many aspects that will be covered in BIOL322. You may not be able to understand yet all the aspects covered here, but it’s written in a way that will help you to quickly familiarize with critical statistical concepts.

Download the paper

Why you should love statistics?
by Alan Smith, Editor at the Financial Times in London

Big message: Statistics is key to improve numeracy!

This is Statistics!
by Genevera Allen, Faculty at Rice University

Big message: Statistics is a great and vibrant field

Teach statistics before calculus!
by Arthur Benjamin, Faculty at Harvey Mudd College

Big message: Statistics is everywhere and should be taught in the early days of education

The importance of statistics
by Keon West, Faculty at University of London

Big message: Statistics can be difficult, but they are key to understanding the world


Slides will go here prior to the lecture.

Download lecture: 3 slides per page and outline

Download lecture: 1 slide per page

Video - This is the recording from 2021; the slides may have changed but not dramatically. In past years, when lectures were not recorded, students did well only studying the slides. So, although the recording may be useful, it’s not critical.