RStudio Conf Diversity Scholarships

The RStudio conf diversity scholarship applications just opened! This is a fantastic program, providing free conference registration and up to $1000 USD in travel and accomodations (up to $3000 if you’re from the Americas outside of the US and Canada). I received one of these scholarships last year and wanted to share my answers to the application questions, in case it would be helpful to see the answers from someone who successfully got this in the past!

How will rstudio::conf() help you?

You will learn the most if you already have some experience with R, so make sure to tell us about the projects you have already worked on, as well as your plans for the future. Tell us about existing public artifacts like shiny apps, packages, or papers, by including them in the urls above. (<200 words)

“Attending rstudio::conf() has been invaluable to my life, both technically (two years ago I had never used RMarkdown or Shiny!) and in terms of community. I’ve become obsessed with coding after many years of education where it was just secondary, because of the warm, excited people that I’ve met as a result of the conf. I spend a lot of time thinking about things meta to data analysis, especially open data; both in terms of consumption (how to access it, clean it, no matter the state — I’ve blogged about this using Toronto Open Data, above) and distribution (how a public sector organization can release data in ways best suited to various audiences, e.g. Shiny apps, flat files). These days I’m in the trenches of reproducible research and reporting, and feel I’m on the brink of becoming an R developer (from”just" an R user) and would especially benefit from attending a workshop, to learn first hand best practices on developing tools in a smart, precise manner."

How will you use what you learn to help others?

We want to fund people who will have a multiplier effect in their communities. Your answer will be most compelling if you provide examples of how you are already helping others, for example you have spoken at or organized a meetup, you’re writing a blog, answering questions on RStudio community or StackOverflow, or teaching/assisting with a university course.

“In past years I have live tweeted and blogged about the conference (linked above), both of which I plan to do again this year. I’m a co-organizer of the newly formed R-Ladies Toronto chapter and plan to give a lightning talk about communicating using R (RMarkdown, bookdown, blogdown, etc) at our first meetup.”


I didn’t blog about the conference last year (fail on my part!) but I wanted to reflect otherwise on this, because reading these answers is a little sentimental!

As part of the scholarship, I got to attend the Tidy Tools workshop taught by Charlotte and Hadley Wickham (you can read a great recap of the workshop by Mo here). I think attending this workshop really was instrumental for me and had the intended effect. In the ~7 months since that workshop, I’ve really started to feel like an R developer. I’ve blogged about tidyeval, went way too deep into list-cols, become totally obsessed with usethis, and developed opendatatoronto, my first real R package! It’s very :’) to see that attending a workshop had the exact impact that I was hoping for.

In terms of a multiplier effect, while I dropped the ball on the blogging part, since RStudio Conf 2019 I started actually co-organizing both R-Ladies Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area R User Group. Between the two, we’ve organized six meetups since March, including one that I spoke at (and another to come in a few weeks!).

I’m super grateful to RStudio for giving me a scholarship last year and for continuing their scholarship program. I’m not throwing my hat in the ring this year, but I’ll be at the conf and look forward to seeing the old and new #rtats friends :~).

Sharla Gelfand
Freelance R and Shiny Developer