Last month I flew to Seattle Washington to take part in the fifth rOpenSci Unconference. This event brought together about 60 R developers from academia, industry, government, and the non-profit sector to work projects that will help the R ecosystem. A bonus of having the event in Seattle was our event sponsor Microsoft hosted us at their downtown Seattle Reactor space which was a great experience and area to work in.
I’ve been a part of the rOpenSci community since 2014 when I submitted my first two R packages to them. To give a sense of how much things have changed back then there wasn’t a formal on boarding process with peer review like there is now. After I started graduate school my time and focus shifted more towards my work and classes instead of writing code for rOpenSci projects. Coming to this year’s Unconference got me active in the community again. I even got to meet other social scientists which is always exciting since there aren’t a lot of us in the R community. On the first day of the Unconference after a couple of ice breakers we all broke out into different groups to focus on some of the projects that were submitted to the GitHub repo ahead of time. I decided to work on package mchtoolbox: Maternal Child Health Toolbox since it was work that was aligned with my academic interests. This package is important since it uses reference data from the CDC to calculate percentiles, z-scores, and related values for child health research and public health surveillance. One thing I was able to contribute to the group was the creation of a Shiny app for our package as well as gathering some example data from NHANES. I got to work with some amazing people on this project including our project leader Monica W. Gerber, Charles T. Gray, Jennifer Thompson, and Jenny Draper.
Although I spent a majority of my time working on the mchtoolbox project I’m planning to also start helping with the qualitative data coding package qcoder. If your passionate about R and about helping expand R into new areas I highly recommend applying to the next rOpenSci Unconference. I made some great friends and professional contacts as well as learn a lot about R and the rOpenSci community. This event was unforgettable, and the community is super supportive check them out and get involved you won’t regret it https://ropensci.org/community/.