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CS 2120: Computing for Life Scientists



It’s 2012… do you know how to code yet?

We live in an era of unprecedented data generation and nowhere is that more apparent than in the life sciences. Without automated tools to help us process, format and mine our data, we are essentially helpless, buried by sheer volume.

This course will teach you the basics of computer programming, oriented completely towards helping make you a 21st century scientist. Even if you end up choosing a career path outside of science, basic programming skills will enable you to grapple with problems and datasets that are inaccessible to those without these skills (someone going into business, for example, might want to have a handle on Business Analytics).

Even Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, is learning to code. So is this reporter from the BBC.

Want more details? Go to the course website.


  • “Isn’t computer programming hard?”
    • It really isn’t. If you can follow the instructions on your shampoo bottle, you can learn to program.
    • The truth is that it programming is just a skill like any other: practice it and you’ll get better at it.
    • You don’t even need to practice much, you just need to be competent with the basics, because that’s what you’ll most often need. I need to know a bit of English to write this website, but I sure couldn’t write The Lord of the Rings.
    • I promise you will learn to program if you take this course.
  • “What are the prerequisites for this course?”
    • An interest in learning a really powerful new skill that will empower you as an information age scientist.
    • That’s it. There are no formal prerequisites. 
  • “What will I learn?”
    • The foundations of computer programming in the language Python
    • Applications of computer programming to real scientific problems.
      • You will (I hope) have multiple “A ha!” moments in this course; moments when you see that something is immediately applicable to your own goals. What we’re doing here is giving you new tools to enable you to do better science (and do it more quickly).

Get Enlightened, get Excited, get Empowered. Learn to code!


The Daley Lab at Western University