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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

1st Edition

Geographical Information Systems with R: using R as GIS (Greece)

November 20th-22nd, 2019, Crete (Greece)


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Introduction to Geographical Information Systems with QGIS


A Geographical Information System is a set of data, tools, software and hardware, designed to store, manage, visualise, analyse, and represent spatial data, either in vector (points, lines, polygons) or raster (image, pixels) format. GIS is behind many activities of our world: from Google Earth and Maps, GPS navigation management of logistic and transportation services, land-cover maps such as CORINE, territorial planning, production of topographical maps and other thematic cartographies, to natural risk analyses and calculation of species’ potential distributions. Every activity using spatial data needs a GIS.

Do you know how to work with spatial data? Do you need to use a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) but you cannot buy professional software? Do not worry, there are many alternatives to freeware GIS that are at least as good as the professional solutions. However, it is not so well-known that you can use the famous programming language R as a GIS tool.

This course will teach you the basic theory and practice of GIS using R. By the end of this 3-day practical course, you will have the capacity to visualise, map, and analyse spatial data, in vector as well as raster format.

This course is orientated to PhD and MSc students, as well as other students and researchers working on any discipline using spatial data.

This course will be mainly practical, with some theoretical lectures. All spatial processes and analyses will be performed with R, which is free and open-source software and allows automated and fully reproducible workflows. Students will learn to import different types of spatial data, visualise the data, perform spatial analyses, and represent the results in thematic maps.


Alexander Hotel

Gerakári, Municipality of Amari, 74 061
Crete, Greece


November 20th-22nd, 2019




21 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 1 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 20 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Neftalí Sillero instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Neftalí Sillero
Centro de Investigação em Ciências Geo-Espaciais

Marcia Barbosa instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. A. Márcia Barbosa
CIBIO-InBIO, University of Évora


Haris Saslis coordinator for Transmitting Science

Dr. Haris Saslis
Transmitting Science


Participants must bring their own computer with R installed. Basic knowledge in R is required. No previous knowledge of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is necessary.


Wednesday, November 20th, 2019.

  • Theory: Introduction to GIS.
  • Practical: Introduction to GIS with R: Import and plot data.
  • Theory: Cartography.
  • Practical: Cartographic projections.

Thursday, November 21st, 2019.

  • Theory: Vector G database base operations.
  • Practical: Attribute and spatial queries: join/merge, filter/subset, select by attribute, select by location, summarize, add/calculate new attributes (columns), plot attributes.
  • Theory: Vector analyses.
  • P: Vector analyses: buffer, merge, dissolve, intersect, unite, select, calculate the area.

Friday, November 22nd, 2019.

  • Theory: Raster GIS.
  • Practical: Raster analyses: rasterize, crop, mask, merge, distance surface, zonal statistics.


  • Course Fee
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  • Early bird (until September 30th, 2019):
  • 420 *
  • Regular (after September 30th, 2019):
  • 525 *
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.
  • Course Fee + Accommodation Package
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  • Early bird (until September 30th, 2019):
  • 420 * + 210 = 630
  • Regular (after September 30th, 2019):
  • 525 * + 210 = 735
  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, transportation between the Venue and Heraklion or Chania city, accommodation from Sunday to Friday, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.

20 % discount will be applied to your fee If you belong to any of the Institutions listed HERE. Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee.

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinator).


If you choose the Accommodation Package you will be hosted at Alexander Hotel in Gerakári village (take a look at the venue), in shared en-suite twin rooms, although you will only share rooms with other course participants. There is a possibility that the rooms will be mixed. If this is an inconvenience for you, and you would prefer to stay in an all-female or all-male room, please indicate so in the “Comments” field of the Registration form (below).

If you prefer to stay in a single en-suite room, you can do so with a supplementary charge.

The Accommodation Package includes transportation from the centre of both Heraklion and Chania (the two main cities of Crete with airports) to the venue and back, at the start and end of the course, respectively. The trip takes around 1 hour 50 minutes each way. Once you have booked your flights, please let the course coordinator know which airport you are flying in and out of, in order to arrange your transportation.

If you do not wish to take the Accommodation Package, you can find a few other options in the surrounding area. However, please be aware that access to and travelling around the area requires a private vehicle as public transport is scarce. Therefore, course participants will find choosing the Accommodation Package more convenient.

Alexander Hotel, Gerakári

Alexander Hotel 1

Alexander Hotel twin room

Alexander Hotel, Gerakári

Alexander Hotel 2

Alexander Hotel, Gerakári

Alexander Hotel 3


Course Schedule
  • Wednesday to Friday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 15:00 Lunch (included).
    • 15:00 to 18:00 Lessons.
Accommodation Package Schedule
  • Tuesday:
    • 18:30 Meeting in Heraklion (Archaeological Museum) or Chania (Coach Station) to take the bus to Gerakári.
    • 20:15 Check-in at Alexander Hotel.
    • 20:45 Dinner.
  • Wednesday and Thursday:
    • 8:30 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 20:30 Dinner.
  • Friday:
    • 8:30 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 18:30 Meeting at Alexander Hotel to take the bus to Heraklion or Chania.
    • 20:15 Arrival in Heraklion (Archaeological Museum) or Chania (Coach Station).

The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.



Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

Furthermore, a 20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Organizations with discount). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Unemployed scientists living in Greece, as well as PhD students based in Greece without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinator. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


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