Worth UW logo over images of outdoor recreation and tourism

Affiliated Faculty

Affiliated faculty maintain appointments in other units; however, their work intersects with WORTH-related projects, research, or services.


Ahmed AbdelatyAhmed Abdelaty

Ahmed Abdelaty, an Assistant Professor in Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management, earned his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Iowa State University in 2017. His work revolves around practical applications, focusing on data-driven decision support systems, data analytics for preconstruction services, and applications of unmanned aerial vehicles and LiDAR. Ahmed seeks to contribute to infrastructure asset management, including outdoor recreation infrastructure assets, for the benefit of communities. Ahmed is committed to fostering a deeper understanding of technology's role in infrastructure asset management to make a meaningful impact in both academia and the field

Melanie ArmstrongMelanie Armstrong

Melanie Armstrong is the Director of the Ruckelshaus Institute and an Associate Professor in the Haub School of Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. In these roles she aims to integrate scholarship and collaborative practice to enable creative, scientific, and community-driven responses to land management challenges. She researches how social systems are built around shifting ideologies of nature and is the author of Germ Wars: The Politics of Nature and America’s Landscape of Fear and co-author of Environmental Realism: Challenging Solutions. Her 15-year career with the National Park Service also provided a laboratory for exploring complex natural resources issues in the landscapes of the American West.

Eric C. AtkinsonEric C. Atkinson

Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Zoology/Physiology at the University of Wyoming, Eric C. Atkinson is Associate Professor of Biology at Northwest College (NWC), Biology Coordinator, and Project Lead of NWC INBRE (IDeA Networks for Biomedical Research Excellence).Eric grew up in the Gallatin Valley of southwest Montana where he developed a strong commitment to the wildlands and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He shares this passion with undergraduates via research centered upon the disease community affecting the songbirds of the Bighorn Basin and adjacent southcentral Montana. Beyond his avian research, Eric utilizes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model hazards for wind power deployment and has developed conservation strategies for vulnerable species across the continent while collaborating with others on rare species research, disease investigation, and the importance of place in the development of scientific and conservation ethics. Eric is committed to guiding hands-on exploration of native systems by students inspiring future conservationists, biologists, biomedical researchers, and health workers, as well as educated and grounded citizens. His commitment to conservation extends to his personal life as he and his wife, Melonie, raise Galloway cattle in an 'ethecological' manner on their farm near Belfry, Montana. They can often be found hiking the sagebrush/juniper draws of the Pryor Mountains with a dog and a pair of binoculars.

Kayla ClarkKayla Clark

Kayla Clark is an educator, graphic designer and letterpress printer known for her expertise in archetypal print, digital design and participatory exhibit installation. In 2021, Kayla joined the University of Wyoming as an Assistant Lecturer in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Communication & Journalism department. She has been recently funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation. Kayla collaborates globally with makers, scientists and researchers, bringing creative strategies to scientific communication and engaging in innovative teaching and STEAM collaborations.

Curt DavidsonCurt Davidson

Curt Davidson, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. Curt's love of the outdoor started when he worked as a mountaineering ranger with the United States Forest Service. Since then, he has worked for over a dozen adventure education and guiding programs throughout the globe. His research interests include character education, experiential learning, and mental health and wellness. Curt is the author of several books and projects, including the Behavioral First Responder Certification, Behavior and Group Management in Experiential Education, and the Outdoor Facilitator's Handbook. When not teaching and writing, you can find him skiing, climbing, or sailing.

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Kelly DunningKelly Dunning

Kelly Dunning is the Timberline Associate Professor of Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation. She holds a PhD in Natural Resources from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MSc in Environmental Policy from Oxford, and a bachelors from the University of Florida. Her research is squarely focused on the ecosystems and species that attract tourists from all over the world, whether that is the coral reefs of the Caribbean or the wildlife and national parks of Wyoming. Specifically she examines public policy that protects ecosystems and wildlife while promoting tourism-based livelihoods. Working in communities where tourism is a major part of the social fabric, like duck hunting communities in the South, recreational fishing communities in Florida, or snowmobilers in Wyoming is of particular interest to her lab. Dunning's lab at the University of Wyoming is the Wildlife & Wilderness Recreation Lab (formerly the Conservation Governance Lab at Auburn University). Dunning’s lab has received over a million dollars in external grant funding from sources like the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as state fish and wildlife agencies. Dunning is a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Early Career Research Fellow and an NCAR affiliate scientist. She has written two peer reviewed books and dozens of journal articles focused on public policy to manage vulnerable ecosystems and promote tourism and outdoor recreation. Dunning teaches courses in outdoor recreation and nature based tourism and enjoys working with students from diverse backgrounds, the student veteran community, and to further the mission of the land grant university. Dunning specializes in assisting student veterans in transitioning to civilian life with a career in natural resources, nature-based tourism, and outdoor recreation.

Wes EatonWes Eaton

Weston M. Eaton is a visiting assistant professor with the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. He conducts research and teaches courses on collaborative and community stakeholder driven approaches to managing complex environmental problems including water resource challenges and energy transitions. Wes applies mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods to address both practical and scholarly problems. He pursues opportunity to support knowledge co-production, social learning, and relationship building among scientists, practitioners, students, and communities.   

Before joining the University of Wyoming, Wes was Assistant Research Professor with The Pennsylvania State University, where he led a multi-state team conducting research on and with stakeholder engagement to address water quality and quantity challenges in Arizona, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.   

Wes also leads the Advancing Scholarship and Practice of Stakeholder Engagement in Working Landscapes project that convenes a diverse and international network consisting of scholars and practitioners invested in learning about and bettering the knowledge and practice of stakeholder engagement.  

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Sara GhezziSara Ghezzi

Dr. Sara Ghezzi has been a Professor of Practice of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management (ORTM) at the University of Wyoming since 2021. Sara teaches courses focused on the hospitality and tourism industry in the ORTM program and the Hospitality Business Minor in the College of Business. Sara has worked with industry partners around the state of Wyoming by conducting customer service training for employees. 

She has many years of industry experience in food and beverage management. She was an assistant sommelier at the Mandarin Oriental Miami and worked in event management at The Hotel at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Sara brings a passion for the tourism and hospitality industry and enjoys mentoring the future leaders of the profession.

Sara came to the University of Wyoming from the University of Southern Maine where she was a lecturer in the tourism and hospitality program from 2015 to 2020. At USM she developed several interdisciplinary courses focused on hospitality management, event management, and food and beverage management. She was a member of the Food Studies Faculty Council assisting with several events, including Universities Fighting World Hunger Conference. She also led an internship program helping students gain valuable industry experience throughout the country. Additionally, Sara was a part-time faculty member at Reykjavik University (Iceland) teaching several courses in their tourism and hospitality management graduate program.

Food safety has been a major research area in which Sara has focused on throughout her career.  She has examined food safety knowledge in the catering sector and wrote a food safety manual for the food truck industry. She collaborated on an Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Prevention grant which dealt with sustainability in the craft brewery sector. She continues to stay up-to-date on current trends in the hospitality and tourism industry.

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Elizabeth A. MintonElizabeth A. Minton

Elizabeth A. Minton is an associate professor of marketing at the University of Wyoming who conducts research on healthy and sustainable consumption as well as religion’s influence on consumers and business. She has over 65 peer-reviewed journal articles in outlets such as the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Service Research, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, and the Journal of Advertising as well as a coauthored book. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Brenda Derby Memorial Award, the Faculty Excellence Award, the Governor Geringer Award, and the Responsible Research in Business and Management Honor Roll. She is also a Guinness World Record holder. Before academia, she worked in the tourism industry and in small business development in Alaska and Idaho. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon (PhD), Idaho State University (MBA), and the University of Alaska (BBA).

Brian LintonBrian Linton

Brian Linton, a Wyoming native hailing from Meeteetse, developed a strong work ethic and diverse skill set during his formative years. His journey into the world of technology began in 1990 when he pursued a degree in Business Information Management at Ensign College, culminating in a BA from Utah State University in 1993. Brian initially worked as a programmer for six years before discovering his passion for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in 2017.

Christine M. PorterChristine Porter

Christine is an associate professor and Wyoming Excellence Chair of Community & Public Health at the University of Wyoming. Her PhD is in community nutrition from Cornell. She does participatory action research and teaching in public health nutrition and community food systems to end health disparities and build food justice and sovereignty, especially with Indigenous nations. To date, this work has been supported with over $8 million in federal funding.

Tarissa headshotTarissa Spoonhunter

s assistant professor in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and director of the High Plains American Indian Research Institute at the University of Wyoming, Dr. Spoonhunter is focused on sharing knowledge with other races and nationalities to build relationships to increase understanding—something that resides deep in her roots growing up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

At age nine, Spoonhunter was given the name Medicine Beaver Woman by her people, a name she remembers feeling came with a great deal of responsibility. Spoonhunter carried that responsibility throughout her life accomplishments. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Montana and a Master of Arts and a PhD in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. She earned awards from the National Science Foundation, published numerous research papers, and has presented at national conferences.

Temple headshotTemple Stoellinger

Temple Stoellinger is an associate professor and Wyoming Excellence Chair at the University of Wyoming with a dual appointment in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and the College of Law. Professor Stoellinger coordinates the Haub School’s JD/MA program in Environment and Natural Resources and teaches wildlife law, environmental and natural resources law and policy, public land law, and a course on the National Environmental Policy Act. Her scholarship integrates thinking from the fields of law, economics, policy, and more to explore relevant and timely approaches for decision-making around wildlife, land, energy, and other valued natural resources. Before joining the University of Wyoming, Professor Stoellinger served as a natural resource advisor to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, worked as legal counsel for Shell International B.V., and served as natural resource counsel for the Wyoming County Commissioners Association.

Richard Vercoe headshotRichard Vercoe

Richard Vercoe is an assistant lecturer in the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. Richard’s work focuses on the dynamic interaction of conserving heritage agricultural systems and traditional ecological knowledge in globally important biodiversity hotspots. He has previously worked with United Nations UNDP and FAO programs on community-based conservation and sustainable development projects in Patagonian Chile. Richard also has a professional background in outdoor recreation with a focus in ecotourism, working in both South America and the Western US designing and operating youth adventure programs.

Darran WellsDarran Wells

Darran Wells grew up racing mountain bikes with his father in Houston, Texas. After graduating Magna Cum Laude in Philosophy from the University of Houston and completing EMT training, he joined the US Peace Corps and served two tours in Central Africa as a health education volunteer before returning to the states to become a full-time instructor for the NOLS in 1999.

At NOLS, he taught mountaineering, rock-climbing, whitewater rafting, caving, backcountry skiing, and customized leadership development trainings in wilderness settings throughout the US and Alaska. He was senior faculty and custom education program coordinator from 1999-2007. As a senior instructor for NOLS Professional, he led leadership training programs for the Wharton School of Business, NASA and the US Naval Academy.

From 2000 to 2005, Wells competed internationally in multi-day adventure races and appeared on television in Eco-Challenge, Primal Quest, and Global Extremes. In 2012, he wrote the second edition of his book, NOLS Wilderness Navigation, a how-to book on using topo maps, compasses and GPS.

Wells completed his master’s degree in adventure education at Prescott College in 2007 before taking over the outdoor education degree program at Central Wyoming College. In addition to outdoor skills courses, Wells teaches courses in the history and theory of experiential education, leadership development, outdoor teaching techniques, and natural resource management. Wells is a Wilderness First Responder and has volunteered for Fremont County Search and Rescue since 2000.

“For a small community college, we have the most incredible facilities in both Lander and Riverton,” Wells said. “Our Alpine Science Institute is an ideal campus for learning outdoor skills and developing a deep appreciation and understanding of the natural world.”

Wells said he enjoys seeing students light up when they climb a steep rock, ski powder, or jump a mountain bike for the first. He said that is a driving force for him.

“I love helping students to live and travel comfortably in the mountains and develop a passion for the natural world.”

Wells has a wife, Stacy, who is an adjunct instructor at CWC’s Alpine Science Institute. Their daughter climbed the Grand Teton, Mount Kilimanjaro without her parents in 2020. She also started backcountry splitboarding in the Wyoming Rockies.

Chen XuChen Xu

CHEN XU is an Associate Professor in the School of Computing, University of Wyoming. E-mail: cxu3@uwyo.edu. His research interests include geospatial modeling, big geospatial analytics, geocomputation, human mobility, and GIScience.


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