Dr. Ashley Rose Mehlenbacher is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, in Canada. Previously she was an Assistant Professor of Communication, Networks, and Innovation in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. Mehlenbacher is also an Ontario Early Researcher Award holder (2017-2022), a General Editor at Genre Across Borders, a member of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Genre Research at the University of Copenhagen, and the First-Vice President for the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine.
Mehlenbacher is a rhetorical scholar whose research examines how science communication is changing with new–especially networked–technologies and also with different communities, such as citizen scientists, becoming involved in scientific research. The objective of this research is to understand how different systems interact to include or exclude different stakeholder voices, and then to apply this work by providing alternatives for more inclusive approaches to scientific research and policy-making. Her research is especially concerned with genres of science communication, expertise and expert networks in multidisciplinary research teams, citizen science, ethos in grassroots scientific research, and biohacking and hacker participation in scientific research. Broadly, her research engages science communication, environmental communication, risk communication, science studies, and rhetoric of science and technology.
Mehlenbacher is the co-editor of Emerging Genres in New Media Environments. She has published numerous papers, including in the journals Communication Monographs, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Environmental Communication, First Monday, Rhetor, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Enculturation, and POROI. She has recently published on crowdfunding strategies for science in Technical Communication Quarterly, on citizen science in the Canadian Journal of Communication, on Gertrude Buck's cognitive metaphor theory, in Rhetorica, and argument schemes and rhetorical figures of speech for computationally tractable argument detection in Argument & Computation.
In addition to her academic writing, Mehlenbacher has been a technical writer for Blackberry and a science writer for the Public Library of Science (PloS) Citizen Sci blog, Scistarter.com, and Discover Magazine's Citizen Science Salon.
In the classroom, Mehlenbacher experiments with innovative pedagogies, particularly in online learning environments, and her work has been published in IEEE Trans. Pro. Comm. and Technical Writing and Communication. She is also interested in experiential learning and has worked with several high tech companies. Course taught include:
- Theory and Practice of Technical Communication (Waterloo)
- Qualitative Methods in Professional Communications & UX Research (Waterloo)
- Grant Writing (Waterloo)
- Technical Editing (Waterloo)
- Communication and Social Networks (Purdue)
- Communication for Science and Research (NC State)
- Communication for Engineering and Technology (NC State)
- Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society (NC State)
Mehlenbacher earned her Ph.D. (2014) in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media at North Carolina State University, where she studied citizen engagement with technoscientific regulatory processes and crisis response. Her triple award-winning dissertation, Hacking Science: Emerging Parascientific Genres and Public Participation in Scientific Research (directed by Carolyn R. Miller), explores how citizen scientists are using new genres of science communication to secure funding and support for their projects and disseminate results. This worked earned her a 2015 NCTE/CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication, the 2015 Joan Pavelich Award for the Best Dissertation from the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW), and the North Carolina State University 2013-2014 College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dissertation Award. In 2018 Mehlenbacher won the CRDM Distinguished Alumni Award.