I’m a biologist myself, with very little programming background and who knew R and some basic Python before starting Julia. What brought my attention to Julia in the first place was Douglas Bates’ discussions about his transition from R to Julia. I was using GLM’s and GLMM’s heavily and eventually found out that of THE guys responsible for the development of a tool I was using all the time in R (lme4 package) wasn’t involved with the project anymore. As I loved R, I wanted to know why he had left and started learning about this “two language problem”, which is relevant if you want to develop packages, but it’s irrelevant for most students that just want to analyze data or produce plots. And I think that’s the basic selling point: do you people want to analyze data in small controlled experiments? R/Python should be fine. Do you want to develop packages, run long simulations or work with big datasets? Try Julia.
I tried to teach R to biologists that are not very inclined to use command line tools and no matter what you show them, they rarely did the transition from SAS or JUMP. But I also had colleagues that were, like me, interested in statistics, mathematical simulations, etcetera, and they were willing to put more time into learning a new tool.
Good luck with your presentation, it’s hard to get people to change their ways, because it’s hard. I’m doing some data analysis in Julia with fairly big datasets and I might do a comparison with R for a presentation in a Data Scientists meetup. I’m not done yet, unfortunately.