Thea Atwood is the Data Services Librarian at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has been involved in the research process since 2005, when she pursued an independent study and honors thesis in letter learning, the importance of writing, and the associated brain activity, measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). After graduating from Indiana University in 2007 with her B.S. in Psychology, Thea took a position as an fMRI technologist with the Indiana University department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. This position played an integral part in her future pursuit of librarianship -- by witnessing firsthand the challenges of quality data collection, security, the fragility of digital data, the unexpected loss of data due to environmental disaster, and the challenges of the publishing process, she was emboldened to make science better.
This formative experience, along with frustration towards US educational guidelines that demonstrated a lack of awareness of current research, and a desire to work with researchers across all disciplines, lead her to pursue a degree with Syracuse University as part of their eScience Fellowship program. This program introduced the concepts of eScience, data management, programming, and workflow management, and fostered the importance of reproducibility, ease of access, ease of understanding, and the role of librarians in the research process. The eScience program at Syracuse University also helped her broaden the scope of her work: that all scholarly data needs protection and curation, and all researchers, regardless of experience, should have training and skill development available.
In her current role, Thea works to help researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst better their research through consultations, workshops, and invited talks. More broadly, she is a change leader -- she has co-authored a Strategic Plan for Research Data for UMass Amherst, which is a major multi-stakeholder initiative to broaden the depth of data services and research support at UMass Amherst.
Additionally, she manages UMass Amherst's instance of the DMPTool, and is co-manager of the UMass Amherst data repository, part of the Institutional Repository at UMass Amherst, ScholarWorks@UMass. She chairs the UMass Amherst Data Working Group, a group internal to the Libraries that advises on data management topics. In 2020, she began chairing the Research Computing Committee, a Faculty Senate Committee dedicated to data management, storage, and computing concerns for the campus.
She is driven to help her fellow librarians with research data management responsibilities. For example, Thea is a founding member of the New England-based Research Data Management Roundtables, now a standing Interest Group of ACRL-NEC, an informal, day-long event that brings together data management librarians to discuss current trends and issues in the field, and is on the Executive Committee for the New England Software Carpentry Library Consortium (or NESCLiC), which works to provide a community of Carpentries instructors to the New England region.
In her free time, she likes to hang out and create with her toddler, bake sweets, paint, and is an avid bullet journaler. She currently lives in Western Massachusetts.