Born in Palo Alto, California, Tierney is the founding director of URL: Urban Research Lab at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. URL Lab focuses on the design implications of network technologies on cities, people, and infrastructure. Recent URL research includes smart cities and the Internet of Things, transit oriented development, and big data analysis for urban resilience. In 2013, Tierney was a US Delegate to Smart & Digital Cities in France; she was selected for the quality of her research in the application of new technologies to build the next generation of cities.

     Tierney is the author of several books including The Public Space of Social Media: Connected Cultures of the Networked Society (Routledge 2013), which was a finalist for the Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Award (2014);  Abstract Space: Beneath the Media Surface (Routledge 2007);  editor of Intelligent Infrastructure: Zip Cars, Invisible Networks and Urban Transformation (University of Virginia Press 2017);  coeditor with Anthony Burke of Network Practice: New Strategies for Architecture + Design (Princeton Architectural Press 2007). Tierney holds a PhD in Architecture with a Designated Emphasis in New Media from the University of California Berkeley, a BArch from California College of the Arts. During 2006, she was a predoctoral researcher at the MIT media lab.

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