About Leah

I am an educator, ecologist and data scientists. I started my career pursuing Landscape Architecture but found myself drawn strongly to science. After spending some time as an AmeriCorps volunteer, I found a job at Penn State working in the Land Analysis Lab and among other things, teaching GIS. I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology with a focus on using LiDAR remote sensing data to understand vegetation health and structure at a landscape level.

During my Ph.D. I learned to code - the hard way on my own. After that experience, I was inspired to help others work with data to support their science. I moved on to work at the National Ecological Observatory Network in Boulder, Colorado. Here I build the NEON Data Skills program which was an online open education portal that helped people use NEON and related types of data.

A few tidbits about me:

  • I’ve never had any formal classes or training in GIS, remote sensing, data science or programming. But I love them all and love to learn and read even more.
  • I’m inspired by doing things that have high, positive impact on others. This is why I love teaching.
  • I find coding to be relaxing. It’s kind of like working on a puzzle but more mentally engaging and infinitely rewarding.
  • In my free time you can find me running long distances in the mountains.

I’m currently the director of Earth Analytics Education at Earth Lab, University of Colorado Boulder. Here I get to work with a pretty great team of educators, students, scientists and data scientists.