• In a Nutshell

    • Senior technical writer at Salesforce
    • NYU journalism master's degree
    • Former scientist and science journalist
    • Last name is MAY-han, like "ham" with an "n"
  • Experience

    Senior Technical Writer

    Salesforce

    2016–Present

    I explain how to use Salesforce Marketing Cloud's mobile products to both marketers and developers (API and SDK documentation). I write about four products, for two different audiences, on five Agile development teams.

    Assessment Technology Coordinator

    Indiana University School of Medicine

    2014–2016

    In order to create better doctors, I worked full-time with dozens of faculty across the state to help them use the computer-based assessment software in which all first- and second-year medical students take exams. I not only made it easier for faculty to use the software, called ExamSoft, but I also made it easier for them to use it well. I communicated faculty members’ feedback to the software company as one of ExamSoft’s first online community champions and was invited by the company to review proposals and present at their annual conference.

    Freelance Design Research Consultant

    Studio Science and Scholastic magazines' websites

    December 2015–January 2016

    As a freelance design research consultant on two short-term projects, I formulated a tailored research plan by first gaining a deep understanding of the client and their goals, their competitors, and industry trends. I then conducted qualitative research, such as interviews and card-sorting exercises, in which I didn't simply record what people said and did; I asked follow-up questions to uncover insights: Why did you use that card? Why didn’t you mention that earlier? Then, I clearly communicated research findings to help guide business decisions.

    Associate Faculty Member: Technical Communication

    IUPUI School of Engineering and Technology
    Spring 2015
    I taught students who were not necessarily excited about writing (i.e., not writing majors) to communicate effectively in the workplace. I planned and moderated discussion sessions and provided usable feedback on their writing. After taking my course, students extolled the benefits of getting their peers to review their emails, proposals, etc. before sending them out (hallelujah!).

    Technical Writer and Documentation Project Manager

    RouteMatch Software, Inc.

    2012–2014

    As a user advocate, I researched, wrote, designed, and edited e-learning modules, training guides, quick reference guides, etc. to meet users’ particular skill levels in our complex software. For example, I created a line of flip-book job aids—our most popular and award-winning documents—that were so intuitive for new users that the education team adopted them to help train new clients. Additionally, I got the user-experience ball rolling by creating a UX committee along with colleagues from Product Management, QA, and others.

    Researcher, Consultant, Resource Developer, and Instructor

    University of Georgia School of Forestry and Natural Resources & Department of English

    2010–2012

    I led a multi-year study and recruited 20+ volunteers to conduct applied (read: messy) scientific research in the Appalachian mountains. I was responsible for managing all of the logistics, scheduling, recruiting, and research. In the process, I earned two honorable mention awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), one of the largest scientific research funding agencies in the country. While a full-time graduate student, I also wore many other hats: I developed novel ways to engage a lecture hall full of 40 forestry majors, such as asking them to imagine what classic nature writers would say about modern hunting equipment. I also created 35 activities for faculty to use to engage their students in writing.

    Senior Educator and Publications Manager

    St. Louis Science Center
    2010
    Finding science in the inner city was no obstacle for the group of high school students that I led. Though many were facing multiple risk factors for dropping out of school, they became amateur science journalists, publishing a newspaper and website. The stories that these students wrote generated some of the data for a $3.5 million NSF grant, and the activities that I tested with the students became part of a book published by the National Science Teachers Association Press (Front-Page Science, Saul et al., 2010-2011).

    Science Writer and Journalist  Freelance and Intern

     

    Freelancer for Scientific American Mind, Scholastic, and other outlets

    2005–2012

    Intern at Scientific American Mind, Psychology Today, and LiveScience.com

    2008

     

    I was a translator, interviewing scientists to help the general public understand scientific discoveries. I pitched, wrote, researched, conducted interviews for, created, recorded, edited, and fact-checked articles, audio podcasts, videos, and infographics. My work has appeared in some of the leading science magazines and websites in the country: Psychology Today, ScientificAmerican.com, Scientific American Mind, LiveScience.com, and Scholastic’s ScienceWorld magazine, to name a few.

    Research Laboratory Technician

    University of Missouri – Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology
    2007
    I conducted research to understand how blood vessels are created in order to better understand how to treat disease. I was responsible for making sure the lab ran smoothly by ordering supplies and scheduling equipment repairs. Plus, I got to dye cells fluorescent colors.

    Researcher

     

    University of Tennessee-Knoxville – field site in Uvalde, TX

    Savannah River Ecology Laboratory – Aiken, SC

    University of Missouri, Department of Biological Sciences – Columbia, MO

     

    2003–2006

    While a full-time undergraduate student, I designed my own research studies in applied ecology, wrote proposals, collected and analyzed data, and presented the results at regional and national conferences to inform conservation managers about wetland recommendations. I successfully applied for $10,000 in research scholarships and travel awards.
  • "Research is just another name for critical thinking."

    Erika Hall
    Just Enough Research

  • Education

    Graduate Certificate, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

    IUPUI – Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis

    2016–Present

    Part-time student, while working full time.

    MNR, Natural Resources (scientific research)

    University of Georgia

    2010–2012

    MA, Science Journalism

    New York University

    2007–2009

    BA and BS, English and Biology
    summa cum laude

    University of Missouri
    2002 - 2006
  • Anne Lamott
    Bird by Bird

    "...good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are."

  • Portfolio

    Selected articles, podcasts, research articles, blog posts, technical writing—plus an infographic about supermale fish (to the rescue!)

    LiveScience.com
    "The Secret to the Spring in Your Step"
    Article

    "Seasonal Terrestrial Microhabitat Use by Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) in Missouri Oak-hickory Forests"
    Research Article

  • Skills

    List of skills and super powers

    Research Experience

    Planning and designing studies
    Conducting research (journey mapping, card sorting, interviews, etc.)
    Analyzing data
    Presenting and reporting results

    Software

    myBalsamiq (prototyping tool), Optimal Workshop (usability tools: online cardsorting, etc.), Adobe Captivate, Adobe Connect, Concrete5 and Confluence (CMS), Canvas and Sakai (LMS), GoToMeeting
  • Follow me

    Connect with me on social media

    @Rachel_Mahan
    @Rachel_Mahan
    /in/rachelmahan
    /in/rachelmahan