Accessing and analyzing data in a computer programming environment is a key skill needed by graduate students and professionals in natural sciences. Learning a programming language will fundamentally change your ability to think quantitatively, understand datasets, test alternative hypotheses, and utilize existing data relevant to ecological and natural resource sciences.The objectives of this course are to teach students (1) the basic skills needed to access, manipulate, and visualize (large) datasets, and (2) how to perform, automate, and customize data analysis using command-line computer programming. Although not a formal statistics course, we will cover both basic and more advanced statistical methods throughout the semester. The course will focus on skills applicable to multiple computer languages, including R, S-plus, and Python, but it will primarily utilize the program Matlab for teaching and examples.
Two-hour class periods will consist of approximately 25% lecture, 75% hands-on computer work. Students are encouraged to use their own datasets throughout most of the course. Exercises and on-line video tutorials will be used to prepare for and cover weekly topics for the first 8-10 weeks. The remaining weeks will be dedicated to semester projects, focusing on a dataset relevant to individual students or groups of students (your choice!).