2024 Summer School in Advanced Statistics for the Life Sciences

The Summer School in Advanced Statistics for the Life Sciences, on the theme of Hierarchical Models, will take place from April 29 to May 3, 2024 at Jouvence, in Mont-Orford National Park, Quebec. Hierarchical models in life sciences refer to statistical frameworks that account for the nested structure of data often encountered in biological research, where observations are organized within multiple levels of hierarchy such as individuals within populations, or repeated measures within individuals. These models allow for the incorporation of both within-group and between-group variability, providing insights into the underlying biological processes while appropriately addressing the complex dependencies within the data.

The intensive course is presented by Pr. Guillaume Blanchet, professor at Université de Sherbrooke and academic member of BIOS2, and Dr. Andrew MacDonald, research professional for BIOS2CREUS, and QCSB. The course aims to introduce hierarchical models from both a theoretical and practical point of view. Everything will be done using R with an introduction to Stan. Bring your dataset!


Anyone interested in taking part in the summer school must complete this form by March 20, 2024. Official registration (admission and payment of registration fees) will take place during the week of March 25, 2024

More information and registration:

2024 Summer School in Biodiversity Modelling

The 2024 edition Summer School in Biodiversity Modelling will be on the theme “Indicators to monitor biodiversity changes“. Biodiversity indicators are metrics used to measure and assess the health, diversity, and distribution of species, ecosystems, and genetic variability within an environment. These indicators provide valuable insights into the status and trends of biodiversity over time, helping to inform conservation efforts, policy-making, and sustainable development practices. By tracking these indicators, scientists and policymakers can monitor changes in biodiversity, identify areas of concern, prioritize conservation actions, and evaluate the effectiveness of conservation strategies.

The main objective of the 2024 Summer School in Computational Biodiversity Science will be to develop a report of the current state of biodiversity for Canada, based on the most recent science on biodiversity indicators and using state-of-the-art technologies in data science. 

Presented by Professor Dominique Gravel (Université de Sherbrooke) in collaboration with various leading scientists in the domain, the intensive course will take place from May 13 to 17, 2024 at Jouvence, in Mont-Orford National Park, Quebec.

Date: May 13 to 17, 2024
Location: Jouvence Resort in Orford, Quebec
Registration fee: 600$ (shared room) 800$ (private room)
Price includes course registration, accommodation and meals.


Anyone interested in taking part in the summer school must complete this form by March 20, 2024. Official registration (admission and payment of registration fees) will take place during the week of March 25, 2024

More information and registration:

Structural Equation Modelling – training

We are pleased to announce our forthcoming workshop on Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), scheduled to take place from April 8th to 10th, 2024, from 10 am – 1 pm PT / 1 pm – 4 pm ET. This course offers a comprehensive exploration of SEM, delving into its theoretical underpinnings and practical applications. Participants will gain a profound understanding of causal modelling, latent variables, and the nuances of covariance-based and Partial Least Squares (PLS) SEM methodologies. Through in-depth instruction, attendees will learn to leverage prominent software tools to conduct sophisticated analyses of complex datasets. Covering conventions, terminology, model specification, and evaluation, this course equips professionals and researchers with the essential skills to navigate SEM effectively.

The training will be conducted by our fellow Varina Crisfield, an awarded PhD candidate in Key Biodiversity Areas at the Université de Sherbrooke. The workshop will be hosted virtually, and access information will be sent out to registered participants one day before the event.

To apply, please fill out this form by April 4th, 2024:

Two workshops to get started with your data project

New Year, new project! In February, BIOS2 will offer two workshops to help you get started with your data projects: Project Set-Up and Data Wrangling. In a mix of best practices tips, tutorials and hand-holding activities, these very basic workshops are designed to make you think about your project and data organization before you start anything, but also to help you reshape your current ongoing projects to something more organized and reproducible. Registrations are open until two days before of the first day of each workshop, and seats are limited (max. 40 people each).

These workshops should be accessible to any graduate student, though prior experience in R is helpful. The workshop will be in English, with support in French, and it will be presented online. The link to access it will be communicated shortly before the workshop.

To register, fill out this form:

Project Set-Up

Learn and practice project organization, reproducibility tips, project maintenance, and more!
Instructors: Andrew MacDonald and Gracielle Higino
When: February 5, 6 and 7 @ 11 am PT / 2 pm ET
Where: online

Data Wrangling

Learn the best practices on data tidying and follow along a tutorial on OpenRefine.
Instructors: Simran Bains, Lukas Van Riel and Timothée Poisot
When: February 13 and 15 @ 10 am PT / 1 pm ET
Where: online

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at

Handy tips for doing a statistical model

When it comes to designing a statistical model, a lot of uncertainty comes to mind. In December, BIOS2 will offer a workshop which will give you some helpful strategies for fitting and understanding your regression models. Led by Dr Andrew MacDonald, the workshop will happen during 3h in two days on December 12 and 14, 2023, with lots of time for questions and discussions of your own work. This workshop should be accessible to any graduate student, though prior experience in R is helpful. The workshop will be in English, with support in French.

To register, fill out the form linked at the end of this page by December 9th, 2023.


Day 1:

  • What’s zero? When and how to center a variable?
  • What are the units? Scaling a variable and why you should do it.
  • What does it mean? Making predictions.
  • Does it depend? Fitting and visualizing interactions.

Day 2:

  • What do you expect? Simulating datasets.
  • The secret weapon: fitting the same model multiple times.

When: 13h EST, Tuesday 12 Dec and Thursday 14 Dec, 2023.
Duration: 3h each day (total of 6 hours)
Where: Online - information to be sent one day before the workshop
Registration form:
Registration deadline:  December 9th, 2023

Apply to participate in a Hydro Quebec + BIOS² working group

The NSERC-CREATE training program in Computational Biology BIOS2, in collaboration with Hydro Quebec, is now accepting applications to participate in a working group that will be held from March 18 to 22, 2024, in the Montreal Area, QC. Applications are due on January 15, 2024. To apply, please fill out this form:

Description of the activity

Working groups consist of a small group of researchers who meet in person and work intensively and collaboratively on a research question, to solve a specific problem, or to develop a specific project. The working group’s goal is to prototype a chapter of an environmental impact assessment report focused on biodiversity measures, using empirical data from real Hydro Quebec projects. Students will work to implement a chapter that should help with decision-making that is efficient, applicable and with content that is easy to communicate.


Applicants must be currently registered in a study program in ecology, environmental science, evolution or a related discipline in a Canadian university. The call is primarily for graduate students, but a few places will be open for undergraduate students and for postdocs whose research aligns with the theme of the working group.

Ideally, candidates will be proficient in R with some experience of working with large ecological datasets, in a collaborative environment, and communicating their analysis and results. Candidates should also be able to participate in person on all 5 days of the activities. Given the goal of the working group, the following skills will be prioritized in the selection process:


  • Data visualization
  • Map design
  • Technical writing in English
  • Technical writing in French
  • Environmental policy
  • Decision making

Computational Ecology

  • Multivariate analysis
  • Geographical statistics
  • Data management
  • Climate change
  • Simulations
  • Ecological niche and species distribution modeling
  • Landscape ecology
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Community ecology

Please notice you don’t need to check all the boxes in the list of skills above to apply. Any combination of skills is welcome, just make sure to emphasize them in the application. It is important, however, to keep in mind that there will be mandatory readings in French.

The highest priority will go to BIOS2 Fellows. Participation fees (travel, accommodation and meals during the event) will be covered for BIOS2 program members, as well as for students registered at a BIOS2-affiliated university. Students from other universities are welcome to apply but must cover their cost of participation.

Candidates with caring responsibilities are welcome and encouraged to apply and we will accommodate their needs, as much as possible. The common language used in this working group will be English, but support in French, Portuguese and Spanish will be provided.

Presentation of the project

Prototype of a biodiversity chapter for environmental impact assessment reports

Leaders: Alexandre Beauchemin, Biologiste, M.Sc. Env. (Hydro Québec), Amélie Drolet Biologiste, M.Sc. (Hydro Quebec), and Dominique Gravel, PhD (BIOS2, Réseau d’observation de la biodiversité du Québec, Université de Sherbrooke).
Facilitator: Gracielle Higino, PhD (BIOS2)

Date of the working group: March 18 to 22, 2024.
Location: In person, in the Montreal Area (place TBD)
Application deadline: January 15, 2024
Application form:

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at