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Lea is a founding co-Executive Director of the South Big Data Innovation Hub at the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Before joining the Hub, she served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow at NASA Headquarters, where she designed and guided open innovation and open source research strategies for planetary and Earth science. From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Shanley founded and led the Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Community of Practice, growing the community to more than 300 members from 40 agencies, collaborating with the White House on the development of the online citizen science toolkit, which became CitizenScience.gov, organization of the White House Citizen Science Forum, and helping to shape the White House Memorandum on Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, issued September 30, 2015.
From 2011-2014, Lea was founding director of the Washington-based Wilson Center Commons Lab, directing strategic research in citizen science, crowd-mapping, social computing, and big data; conceptualizing and initiating the federal citizen science toolkit and projects catalog; and helping to launch the Citizen Science Association. She holds a Ph.D. in Environment and Resources, with a focus on GIS and remote sensing, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work has been featured by whitehouse.gov, Fast Company, Popular Science, The Washington Post, NextGov, TechCrunch, and Vice.