Associate Professor

Photo of Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher.PhD, North Carolina State University
MA (Co-op), University of Waterloo
BA (Hons), University of Waterloo

Extension: 49135
Office: HH 146


After completing my B.A. and M.A. (Co-op) at the University of Waterloo, I moved to North Carolina to complete my doctoral studies in the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program, under the direction of Carolyn R. Miller. After completing my doctorate, I began my first tenure-track job as an Assistant Professor at Purdue University. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to return to Waterloo English, where I have been a faculty member since 2015. My research focuses on the history and theory of rhetoric, and I run the Demos Lab (Democratization through Education in Medicine, technolOgy, and Science Lab) where we study issues related to science, technology, and medicine through the lens of rhetorical theory. In addition to my duties at Waterloo, I serve as a Member of the Board of Directors for the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ARSTM), a past-President of ARSTM (2018-2019), and a General Co-Editor at Genre Across Borders.

Selected Publications


Science Communication Online: Engaging Experts and Publics on the Internet. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press. 2019. ISBN 978-0-814-21398-8.

Emerging Genres in New Media Environments. Co-edited with Carolyn R. Miller. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 2017. ISBN: 978-3-319-40295-6.

Articles and Chapters

Mehlenbacher, A. R., & Mehlenbacher, B. (2020). Rogue Rhetorical Actors: Scientists and the Social Action of Tweeting. In S. Auken & C. Sunesen (Eds.), Genres of the Climate Debate (pp. 177–191). Berlin, Germany: Mouton–De Gruyter.

Mehlenbacher, B., & Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2020). Distance Learning. In A. Tatnall’s (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Education and Information Technologies (pp. 1–10). NY, NY: Springer.

Mehlenbacher, A. R., & Mehlenbacher, B. (2019). The case of the scientific research article and lessons concerning genre change online. In M. J. Luzón & C. Pérez-Llantada (Eds.), Science Communication on the InternetOld Genres Meet New Genres (pp. 41–57). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins.

Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2019). Registered Reports: An Emerging Scientific Research Article Genre. Written Communication, 36(1) 38–67.

Moriarty, D., & Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2019). The Coaxing Architecture of Reddit’s r/science: Adopting Ethos-assessment Heuristics to Evaluate Science Experts on the Internet. Social Epistemology.

Moriarty, D., de Villavicencio, P., Black, T., Cai, H., Bustos, M., Mehlenbacher, B., & Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2019). Durable research, portable findings: Rhetorical methods in case study research. Technical Communication Quarterly28(2), 124136.

Mehlenbacher, A. R. & Maddalena, K. (2019). Networks, Genres, and Complex Wholes: Citizen Science and How We Act Together Through Typified Text. In R.A. Harris (Ed.). Landmark Essays on the Rhetoric of Science: Issues and Methods. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. *Reprint of “Networks, Genres, and Complex Wholes” (2016) in the Canadian Journal of Communication.

Mehlenbacher, A. R. & Miller, C. R. (2018). Intersections: Scientific and Parascientific Communication on the Internet. In R.A. Harris (Ed.). Landmark Essays on the Rhetoric of Science: Case Studies (pp. 239–260), 2nd edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. *Reprint of “Intersections” (2016) in A. Gross & J. Buehl (Eds.), Science and the Internet: Communicating Knowledge in a Digital Age.

Fargo Ahern, K. & Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2018). Listening for Genre Multiplicity in Classroom Soundscapes. Enculturation, 26. 22pp.

Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2017). Rhetorical Figures as Argument Schemes—The Proleptic Suite. Argument & Computation, 8(3), 233–252.

Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2017). Crowdfunding Science: Exigencies and Strategies in an Emerging Genre of Science Communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(2), 127–144.

Mehlenbacher, A. R., & Harris, R. A. (2017). A Figurative Mind: Gertrude Buck's The Metaphor as a Nexus in Cognitive Metaphor Theory.  Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric 35(1), 75–109.

Brock, K. & Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2017). Rhetorical Genres in Code. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 48(4), 383–411. DOI: 10.1177/0047281617726278

Kelly [now Mehlenbacher], A. R. (2016). Emerging Genres of Science Communication and their Ethical Exigencies. In B. Vanacker and D. Heider (Eds.), Ethics for a Digital Age (pp. 3–18). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Miller, C. R., & Kelly [now Mehlenbacher], A. R. (2016). Discourse Genres. In A. Rocci & L. de Saussure (Eds.), Handbook of Communication Sciences–Verbal Communication (pp. 269–286). Berlin, Germany: Mouton–De Gruyter.

Kelly [now Mehlenbacher], A. R., & Maddalena, K. (2015). Harnessing Agency for Efficacy: `Foldit' and Citizen Science. POROI: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Rhetorical Analysis and Invention 11(1), 1–20.

Selected Fellowships & Awards

  • 2020 Fellows’ Early Career Award from the Rhetoric Society of America
  • 2020 Outstanding Performance Award from the University of Waterloo
  • 2018-2022 Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
  • 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Communication, Rhetoric, & Digital Media program at North Carolina State University
  • 2017-2022 Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science
  • 2017 Outstanding Performance Award from the University of Waterloo

Current Research

My research is situated in the field of rhetorical studies, a tradition dating back more than two millennia and which concerns our capacities for effectively communicating with each other. I am interested in the history and theory of rhetoric (particularly questions of style, memory, and also ethics), but also have several lines of inquiry related to contemporary issues.

In one area of my research, I investigate how science communication is changing with new—especially networked—technologies and also with different communities becoming involved in scientific research and policy-making. In this area of research, I have been especially concerned with issues related to communicating nuclear energy risk and disaster, public participation in scientific research (citizen science), and emerging genres of scientific communication (registered reports, open databases, crowdfunding, tweets, blogs, etc.). I am the author of Science Communication Online: Engaging Experts and Publics on the Internet (The Ohio State University Press, 2019; CC BY-NC-ND copy of the book is freely available here). I am also co-editor, with Carolyn R. Miller, of Emerging Genres in New Media Environments (Palgrave, 2017).

In another area of research, I investigate the capacities for acquiring expertise, expert status, and crafting one’s ethos in situations that require technical expertise. This research is funded through an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (2017-2022), and an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2018-2022). Related to this research, I have been working with my collaborator, Dr. Brad Mehlenbacher, on issues related to cognitive and rhetorical theories of expertise and the problem of deception.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • History and theory of rhetoric
  • Rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine (especially related to nuclear energy, disaster, risk society, climate change, environmental communication).
  • Rhetorical genre studies (especially as related to science communication, technical communication, engineering communication, emerging genres in new media environments)
University of Waterloo

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