NCEAS Summer Institute

Group at WorkThe National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) offers a three-week intensive training workshop in ecological analysis and synthesis for early-career researchers. Participants receive hands-on guided experience using best practices in the technical aspects that underlie successful synthesis – from data discovery and integration to analysis and visualization, and special techniques for collaborative scientific research.

Summer Institute 2013 - June 19 through July 10 at NCEAS in Santa Barbara CA.  Generous support was provided by the Packard Foundation.

The training institute emphasizes integration of statistical analysis into well-documented workflows through the use of open-source, community-supported programming languages that are well-suited for rapid yet robust implementation of scientific data analyses. We explore new approaches to open, reproducible science that can support environmental synthesis.


The course weaves together several core themes via a mixture of lectures/instruction, discussions, and exercises; these themes are further reinforced -- and injected into the real-time synthetic scientific research process -- through daily work on group projects.


Core themes include:

  • Collaboration modes and methods
  • Data management, preservation, and sharing
  • Data manipulation, integration, and exploration
  • Scientific workflows and reproducible research
  • Data analysis and modeling
  • Communicating results

In addition, throughout the course we maintain a strong emphasis on computing fundamentals, with the intent of providing all participants with a solid foundation for doing synthetic research in the modern data- and computer-intensive era. This includes:

  • Instruction from the ground up in many aspects of R (which will serve as the primary platform for data manipulation, analysis, and visualization)
  • A survey of general programming constructs, paradigms, and best practices
  • Exposure to the Linux/UNIX commandline environment and useful commandline tools
  • Demystification of various aspects of modern computers that have bearing on effective science
  • Discussion of emerging cyberinfrastructure trends that support open, networked, reproducible science, and
  • Other technical topics

Instructors advise participants in small-group synthesis projects, and also lead daily hands-on exercises that cover a breadth of topics.   Learn more about the 2013 summer institute, it's participants, instructors,  course materials, and group projects.