Welcome! I am an associate professor specializing in rhetorical theory in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo. I am also the Principal Investigator of the Demos Lab (Democratization through Education in Medicine, technolOgy, and Science Lab). 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, with Carolyn R. Miller, at Genre Across Borders.
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 the 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).
In 2020, I won the Rhetoric Society of America Fellows’ Early Career Award, which recognizes the research accomplishments of early career researchers working in rhetorical studies; in 2018, I won the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program at North Carolina State University, which is given to alumni who have conducted exemplary interdisciplinary research and also disciplinary and community engagement; and, in both 2017 and 2020, I won an Outstanding Performance Award from the University of Waterloo, which recognizes faculty who make exceptional contributions in teaching and scholarship.
I live in the Waterloo Region where my spouse, Dr. Brad Mehlenbacher, and I enjoy “a house full of books, and a garden of flowers” (borrowing from Andrew Lang's 1884 Ballade of True Wisdom).