Meet the Professors of the Field Studies Program at College of the Canyons

Brittany Applen, Sign Language         camera shy

Brittany Applen is a Sign Language professor at College of the Canyons.  She earned her B.A. degree in Deaf Studies with an emphasis on Interpreting.  She then completed her M.A. degree in Communication Studies from California State University, Northridge.  She has been interpreting since 2000  at various colleges.  In 2001 she began interpreting at COC.  She was hired as a part-time faculty member in 2003 and in January 2007 she accepted a fulltime position at the college.  Brittany has also been involved with the Recreation & Tourism Management department at CSU, Northridge since 2000 and began teaching recreational courses in 2005.   She is an avid outdoorswoman with some of her passions being hiking, backpacking & wilderness survival.  She is excited about the opportunity to offer Language Immersion weekends at Camp Tahquitz for Sign Language students at College of the Canyons.

Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, Photography
Professor Brill's Website

Wendy Brill-Wynkoop is a professor and the Department Chair of Photography at College of the Canyons.

Photo courtesy of Brita Murphy







Wendy, a southern California native, obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from USC and completed her graduate work at California State University, Fullerton, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in Fine Arts.  Before joining the faculty at College of the Canyons she was a professor at Chaffey College, UC Irvine, Pepperdine, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Cal State Fullerton.  She brings a wealth of experience in art, photography, and graphic design, along with an intense knowledge of technology in the arts, to the college.  She continues to work as a professional artist and photographer.

Jeannie Chari, Biology

Jeannie Chari is a Biology Professor at College of the Canyons.  She brings with her varied experience in both biology and environmental science.  As an undergraduate at UCLA she earned a double major in Biology and Environmental Engineering.  Her undergraduate research focused on molecular biology specifically looking at viral pathogenesis.  Her graduate work done at California State University, Northridge was carried out in the mountains where she uncovered the mechanisms that prevent hybridization and therefore maintain speciation between 2 species of native Penstemon.  It was during these years spent in nature studying biology that she developed a passion to introduce students to the intricacies and diversity of nature.  She is the Advisor for the Hands on Earth Club at College of the Canyons and enjoys many outdoor activities including hiking, gardening and snow and water sports. 

Michael Dermody, History
Field Studies Program Coordinator

Michael Dermody has been a professor of History and Political Science at COC since 1988.  He grew up in the Lakewood/Long Beach area, attending Long Beach City College and receiving his BA and MA from the University of California, Riverside.  Although hired as a generalist, he has a special interest in the history of California, the American West, and the Irish Diaspora.  In addition to coordinating the field studies programs, Michael has also served for many years as the President of the COC Academic Senate.  For over two decades he has served as a summer camp director.  Married since 1984, he and his wife have raised two sons in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Professor Vincent DevlahovichVincent Devlahovich, Geology

Vincent Devlahovich grew up in San Pedro in the South Bay portion of Southern California.  He attended the University of Utah for his undergraduate education before attending California State University, Northridge for his secondary teaching credential and graduate work.  His graduate research focused on the origin and transport of volcanic clasts found in the Santa Monica Mountains from their source near Poway, California north of San Diego.  He received his M.S. from CSUN in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphasis in Geology and Tropical Biology and began teaching university levels courses in the geological sciences department at that time, after 6 years of teaching secondary science and math in Simi Valley Unified school district.  Since this time he taught at Glendale Community College and at Moorpark Community College before accepting full time employment at the College of the Canyons in August of 2007.  Vincents recreational passions are winter sports, hiking, mountain biking and camping, all of which he has done for over 25 years.

Rhonda Hyatt, Recreation Management

Rhonda Hyatt is a long-time resident of Santa Clarita and a full time faculty member for Recreation Management, a newly established major at College of the Canyons. Her professional education background includes a B.S. in Athletic Training from UNLV, an M.S. in Physical Education from University of Arizona and a Doctorate of Education from UCLA. Her professional interests include leisure education, leadership in recreation, sports management, and sports medicine. Prior to joining the College of the Canyons faculty, she worked in sports administration at Santa Monica College and California State University, Northridge.

Professor Anne MarencoAnne Marenco, Sociology

Anne Marenco earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from USC and taught at California State University, Northridge and Pierce College before taking the position of Department Chair at College of the Canyons.  Her sociological interests include marital relationships over the life course.  Anne enjoys  traveling and camping.  She has been married since 1980 and has two children.  The household also includes two dogs, two bearded dragons, and a turtle.

Brent Riffel, History

Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Brent Riffel was not born in a log cabin, nor raised by wolves, but rather hails from the great state of Arkansas. He joined the COC faculty as a full-time instructor in 2008. In addition to his teaching schedule, he is the adviser for the History club.  Dr. Riffel specializes in modern American history, with a particular emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement, as well as  social and cultural American history, and the history of the Middle East.  He and his wife Mariah live in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Pamela Williams-Paez, Sociology

Ms. Williams-Pez earned her MA in Sociology from the University of Washington and her MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary.

Ms. Williams-Pez's research interests include stratification, social life in public spaces, and globalization.  Her teaching interests include gender, race and ethnicity, and social deviance.  Some of the writers who have influenced Ms. Williams-Pez include Howard S. Becker, June Jordan, James Baldwin, and Sherman Alexie.

In her spare time, Ms. Williams-Pez enjoys participating in gardening, photography, music, sports and doing ceramics.


College of the Canyons

Valencia campus:

(661) 259-7800

26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Canyon Country campus:

(661) 362-3800

17200 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita, CA 91351