Lecture 1: Introduction

January 10, 2023 (1st week of lectures)

This is BioStatistics!

Let me state bluntly: I’m passioned about biostatistics, teaching the 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 disciplines, 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! Statistics requires a blend of subjective and objective thinking that pushes our intellectual capacities in a great way! That is exciting but can also be at times overwhelming. Statistics is everywhere but not easily available to everyone because of the fear about numbers and mathematics. Let’s change that.

One of the most important aspects of Biology is variation among all components of life, among genes, single cells, behaviour differences among individuals, and differences among species, populations, communities and ecosystems. Understanding variation is key in biology! And Statistics is all about variation (and more mathematically speaking, about variance).

Here are some fantastic resources that are excellent to jump start your interest in statistics!

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 may appear challenging, but its methods and “ways of thinking” are key to understanding the world


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