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Training and Development on the BBSRC DTP

As well as the four themes from which projects can be selected, the DTP has an enabling theme Exploiting New Ways of Working (ENWW). In the past decade new technology has led to a fundamental change in the nature and volume of data that biologists generate and must analyse. Training in modern computational and statistical techniques to deal with “big data”, together with other mathematical techniques to allow the complexities of biological interactions to be modelled, is a very important component of the DTP Programme.

Throughout the four years of the BBSRC DTP, students will take part in a variety of training sessions, they will also have access to a large number of optional training sessions offered by both the University of Cambridge and external providers.

Training for first year BBSRC DTP Students

Programming in R

The aim of these sessions is to introduce basic computer programming in R, which will be used for the Statistics for Biologists training. The most fundamental concepts to be covered are conditionals and looping. Taken together, these allow the same code to be repeated a number of times, or until a particular condition is true/false. This allows more or less any calculation, or any sequence of analytic steps, to be automated. The sessions are deliberately pitched at the introductory level, although exercises of varying difficulty will be provided for anyone with more programming experience.

Reproducible Research

The aim of this session is to introduce the concept of reproducible research, and how this may be assisted using 'literate programming'—combining documentation with code. Using this approach, information on why an analysis is being done and the results of an analysis can be presented alongside the code used to read the data, perform the analysis, and generate figures, etc. Using examples from previous sessions, students will be shown how to generate reports and slideshows using RStudio.

Core Statistics for Biologists

The aims of this training are to help you to acquire the data analysis and statistical skills necessary for research projects and for evaluating literature and to provide practical experience in performing common statistical analyses using the R programming language and environment.

SysMIC Training Modules

The SysMIC (Systems Training in Maths, Informatics, Statistics and Computational Biology) modules are online training courses developed by a consortium of UK Universities and funded by BBSRC. As above, you will be given the choice whether to complete SysMIC or have access to a training budget. All students who register for SysMIC will be expected to complete either Module 1 or 2 of the course, which starts in November 2017. Details of the course are available at: Throughout the course there will be online support provided by the SysMIC team and a Moodle forum for Cambridge DTP students. Your progress on the SysMIC course will be monitored and satisfactory completion of Module 1 or 2 is a pre-requisite for progression into the second PhD year. This requires submitting writeups for nine assignments, plus a mini-project, which involve using simple MATLAB programming to solve mathematical problems in a biological context. You are encouraged to progress through Modules 2 and 3 during the course of your PhD.

Research Skills Review

Becoming a productive writer

Effective Researcher

Health and Safety

Students must adhere to the specific health and safety regulations of the Department in which they are working at each stage of the Programme. Students must attend the compulsory lectures in the University Safety course in October. We also encourage students to attend the optional biological safety, cryogenics, VDUs, pipettes, glass and sharps, and radiation courses.