Bryce L. Gillies, a third-year physics major, died last week during a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. He was 20.

Mr. Gillies, from McLean, Va., was a Wilson Hall resident who recently returned from Yua, Ghana, where he was working with the NAU chapter of Engineers without Borders.

“While working in Ghana, often in difficult circumstances and with limited resources, Bryce embraced the frequent challenges confronting the team,” said Aaron Denham, assistant professor of anthropology. “If it weren’t for Bryce’s problem solving, leadership and other exceptional efforts, the EWB projects this year would not have been successful. He is remembered not only for his remarkable intellect and astute problem solving abilities, but as a kind, compassionate and positive person.”

Benjamin Moan, a research specialist at the Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research and former chapter president of Engineers without Borders, said, “I think Bryce really wanted to make a positive difference in the world, through a career in physics or engineering. He was very intelligent and had the skills to do it. He will be deeply missed.”

Mr. Gillies graduated from McLean High in 2007 and had taken courses at George Mason University. An Eagle Scout who chose Northern Arizona University in part because of the area’s beauty, he was an outdoor enthusiast who had hiked the Appalachian Trail, learned to kayak and to rock climb.

He is survived by his parents, Randy and Warna Gillies of McLean and a brother, Neal.

A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Bryce L. Gillies is planned for 1 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Falls Church, 115 E. Fairfax St., Falls Church, VA 22046, (703) 889-8117. A local memorial service will be announced after the fall semester begins