Faculty Bios


Dr. George “Wolf” Gumerman 

Wolf Gumerman, Director of the University Honors Program and Professor of Anthropology at Northern Arizona University, is an archaeologist who applies his research to broader societal concerns, including collaborating with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office to promote cultural preservation. Using archaeology and elder knowledge he connects Hopi youth with their past. The collaboration has produced four films and a museum exhibit that present the youth’s perspective on Hopi culture and history. Wolf also has a strong interest in food and culture stemming from his 20 years of research on the north coast of Peru and from his interest in sustainable food systems. He is Co-founder and past Co-editor for the Journal Heritage Management and publishes primarily on topics related to prehistoric foodways. Wolf teaches a range of interactive courses on composition and literature, archaeology, theory, human evolution, and food and culture.


Jacob Fillion, M.A.

Mr. Fillion has over 30 years of experience working in both the public and private sectors and has a Masters degree in Education from George Washington University.  He is currently the Environmental Education Branch Chief and International Programs Coordinator at Grand Canyon National Park where he has been since early 1998.  At Grand Canyon Jacob has developed an interdisciplinary environmental education program that reaches over 50,000 young people annually through on-site curriculum-based programs, Junior Ranger programs, overnight camps and distance learning programs.  Most recently he has begun developing international programs for Grand Canyon; he was instrumental in establishing Grand Canyon National Park’s first sister park – Yuntaishan World Geopark in China.  Prior to working with the Park Service he worked in Washington DC for 15 years, 10 years for the Peace Corps as the Environment Sector Specialist in the Office of Training and Program Support working on projects in Central and South America, Eastern and Central Europe, Africa and the Pacific Islands.  Jacob was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay from 1979 – 1982 as an agricultural extension agent.  In the private sector Mr. Fillion was the Director of Education and Programs at the Engineers and Surveyors Institute in northern Virginia and an instructional systems designer for a small consulting firm in Washington, DC.


Wayne Ranney 

Wayne Ranney’s passion for Southwest geology took root during his years as a backcountry ranger in the Grand Canyon. As a geologic interpreter, Wayne leads and participates in geology-oriented river trips, backpack adventures, and international expeditions. Wayne is the author of three award-winning books and numerous popular articles. He has written for Arizona HighwaysSedona Magazine, and Earth Magazine. His three books, Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado PlateauCarving Grand Canyon, and Sedona Through Time have received numerous awards. There is nothing Wayne enjoys more than teaching in an outdoor classroom….


Dr. Thomas D. Sisk 

Tom Sisk, the Charles Olajos and Ted Goslow Endowed Chair of Environmental Science and Policy for the Southwest is an ecologist whose work focuses on three interrelated goals: improving our understanding of ongoing environmental change; engaging others in the challenges, societal relevance, and rewards of conservation; and helping to provide solutions to emerging problems facing policy makers and land managers. Tom has worked around the world developing a broad perspective on science, government, and the environment. His experiences provide insight into the relationship between science and management, as well as the challenges associated with translating sound science and progressive policy into on-the-ground action. Sisk’s laboratory group researches a broad range of topics related to the restoration and conservation of biodiversity and sensitive habitats, combining field study, geographic analysis, and spatial modeling. Tom’s courses in conservation biology, landscape ecology, and environmental policy and leadership emphasize theory in the natural and social sciences, and grounds student experience in field study and real-world applications. Tom serves on numerous advisory and editorial boards and is a certified Senior Ecologist of the Ecological Society of America and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow.


Annette McGivney, MLS

Annette McGivney teaches writing, editing and environmental communication courses at NAU and is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism. Her areas of focus are creative non-fiction writing and exploring the connections between humans and nature. She is the author of Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West (Braided River Books; 2009) and Leave No Trace: A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette (The Mountaineers; 2003). McGivney has been the Southwest Editor for Backpacker magazine since 1996 and has extensively covered Grand Canyon and other Southwest public lands-related topics for the magazine. She is also the past editor of Grand Canyon Journal and, in addition to Backpacker, her stories on outdoor destinations and environmental issues have appeared in Outside, Arizona Highways and The New York Times.  Through her work as a writer and an educator, McGivney seeks to inspire others to connect with the natural environment and protect wild places. 


Stephanie Sutton, MS

Stephanie Sutton is a District Interpreter and the Canyon Field Schools Director at Grand Canyon National Park. She has an undergraduate and graduate degree in Environmental Studies and completed her master’s thesis on the value of citizen science in raising science literacy among English language learners. She has a strong passion for education and science and a keen interest in connecting individuals with natural landscapes. She has dedicated her professional life to developing unique opportunities for raising science literacy among visitors and students alike. Currently, Stephanie is developing a plant phenological monitoring program to increase understanding of the impacts of climate change in Grand Canyon and she is expanding the scope of interpretive and education programming to incorporate hands-on science education/citizen science. Stephanie believes that the future of conservation lies with an interested and informed public and through the Grand Canyon Semester hopes to inspire students seeking professional and personal growth in science education. 



Maddie Friend

Maddie was born and raised in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona. The peaks, canyons, and rivers of the Colorado Plateau inspired her love of science, learning, and the outdoors. She has worked for Grand Canyon Youth, the National Outdoor Leadership School, Northern Arizona University, and the United States Geological Survey. Her passion for experiential education stems from her life-affirming experiences in the field. In May 2014, she will graduate from NAU with a B.S. in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Biology and a minor in Spanish. She was a participant in the 2012 Grand Canyon Semester and looks forward to looking with the 2014 students!