Report YoMos Workshop 2016

This May I attended my first YoMos Workshop at the Ecological Station of the TU Dresden. I was not sure what to expect, but as a first year PhD student new to modeling I figured I would probably learn something. Now, with the workshop over, I am so glad I attended! It’s an amazing place for graduate students to get together and think about modeling in an environment where it is easy to ask questions.

So what do we do at a YoMos Workshop?

Well, we started with a pre-workshop on data visualization in R. Students prepared short presentations and tutorials about different topics. Among other things we covered several R packages (ggplot, leaflet, dplyr, tidyr), learned about Shiny and R Markdown, and looked into animating GPS tracking data. Everyone chipped in: asking questions, sharing their own experiences, and helping each other try out some code. Since we didn’t have to stick to a strict schedule we had plenty of time to explore and steer the teaching to what we found most helpful.

Then the actual workshop started which was a mixture of talks by professors who work in the field of ecological modeling, student talks, and workshops. Not only did we get to talk with experts in the field, but we each had time to present our own projects and receive feedback. In the working group I am part of few people actually model, which makes it hard to get constructive, useful feedback. At the YoMos, though, the invited professors and your fellow students have the modeling background to really discuss your model, provide feedback, and give tips. Then there are workshops to go into more detail about themes of general interest - this year we discussed version control, good programming guidelines, artificial neural networks, and sensitivity analyses.

The evenings are filled with joint cooking endeavors, small hikes, and games. It’s exciting and reassuring to meet fellow students going through the same academic hurdles you are going through. To talk with people who understand. By the end of the week you will have made new friends, and in doing so, created a network of support.

So come join us! We are looking forward to meeting more students who are excited to bring questions, ideas, and a willingness to share what they have learned. You drive the content of the workshop and ultimately how useful it is. We are not looking for experts, just for everyone to share a bit of what they have learned. Our goal is to create a relaxed, friendly environment to exchange knowledge and build up a network of young modelers.

We hope you will join us in 2017!