Monthly Archives: March 2017

I am also learning to code on my own

Last week  I read an interesting article on WIRED about the current need of  biologists who are able to code. The article stressed how more biologists need to learn coding in order to analyze huge data sets, and how most biology curricula in universities lack such topics.

After reading it I could not relate more to it. This is because right now I am working on my master’s thesis in which I need to use R to analyze my data. For those who are not familiar with it, R is a statistics software and programming language widely used in in data analysis. The only “problem”, let’s say,  is that to work on it training is needed because is based on a specific coding language.

This is how my “work space” on R looks like.

However, during my education in Colombia and Sweden I have not had any training whatsoever in coding. From my own perspective I thought coding was a skill only necessary for hard-core software engineers, computer scientists or bioinformaticians, so I never really bothered not taking a course until now, when I face the need to learn how to code  to analyze the data I have generated during my degree project.

As said in the article on WIRED, I am learning these skills on my own -as many other biologists are doing too. Luckily, there are some courses online to learn the basics and manuals to learn  more advanced functions. I followed one online course offered by the University College of London for free .  Additionally, at the Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology (where I’m doing my thesis) we are learning with a group of researchers, master students and PhD students how to use PoppR (Population genetics in R) a package of R to analyze molecular data for population ecology. We are together following the instructions and manuals with our own data sets , which has been a very nice learning experience because together we have been able to compare, discuss, read additional literature and learn topics beyond the mere coding aspect of R.

Today I honestly regret not paying more attention to coding- that I have realized is even fun!  in the past . Nonetheless it is exciting learn such a powerful skill, that will be for sure useful to answer relevant questions in biology.




University ranking season

A few months of 2017 have gone by and university ranking season has started. This week, SLU was placed in the top 10 on 2 different rankings which is not a surprise, because to my opinion it has been doing a very good at both research and education.

In 2017’s QS ranking by subject,  SLU  ranked 4th in  Forestry and Agriculture behind Wageningen, UC Davis and Cornell. I think this quite remarkable and of course makes me feel proud of studying at it.

SLU makes top five in Agriculture and Forestry.


Additionally, Times Higher Education (THE) released 2017’s top small universities, in which SLU ranked 9th. As part of the release I was asked to write a small piece to be published at THE website, which makes me even prouder!

The post I got published at THE.

You can read my post at THE here:




Student housing is apparently not enough in Uppsala. Therefore, most of students struggle to find a place to live in  (you might like to read Accommodation in Uppsala). I have had guaranteed housing during my studies for being a non-EU citizen at [what I consider] the best location offered by SLU’s housing office: Rackarbergsgatan. This month I am moving out and couldn’t leave without writing a post about it.


This is honestly what I like the most about Rackarberget. It is embedded in a superb location: close to city center, shops, supermarkets, Uppsala University Library (Carolina Rediviva) and of course student nations, where most of social student life takes place.

Location of Rackarberget in Uppsala. Map from Google Maps.

The only place that might seem a little bit further away is SLU. But that has not been a problem for me, because the biking route is very nice. Plus, 12 km (6 km each way) of bicycling a day is good exercise 🙂

Flat layout

There are different types of apartments in Rackarberget and mine is particularly small. We are only 3 people living in a 3 rooms corridor. Bathroom and kitchen are shared. That’s it.

This makes it feel comfortable in a way, because is to small to be a dorm corridor, but it has no social areas to be a real flat. So it is basically just a student flat with everything what is needed smartly arranged.


The room 13 sqm, and furnished, what makes everything so much more easier for newly arrived students. It includes 2 lamps, a single bed, a desk, a desk chair an additional chair and some shelves on the wall. The closet is spacious and the room is quite bright albeit being in the second floor.


My contract signed in 2015 was for 3488 SEK every month. Apparently it changes between years and rooms, so this is not a rule. I think it is an OK price for a furnished room in a nice location.

The view from my window in Rackarberget

You’ll be missed, Rackarberget.