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GOING WILD FOR THE NEW BELL MUSEUM Plus U police, serving donuts and advocacy The man who knows ticks All the U presidents' spouses Book reviews

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Made possible by members of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association since 1901 | Volume 117, Number 4

Summer 2018 10

4 Editor's Note 5 From the Desk of Eric Kaler 8 About Campus

Police serve pastries, a tour of University Grove, and the economic impact of the U

13 Discoveries

Male birth control moves ahead By Susan Maas Plus: Opioids, buffer zones, and transgender health care


The Bell Comes Alive

Nature rules at the new Bell Museum By John Rosengren


Designed with Nature in Mind

A tour with Bell architect David Dimond By Lynette Lamb


Dancing with the Stars

Wowed by the Bell’s planetarium By Deane Morrison


Among the Bugs

Dave Neitzel knows ticks and mosquitoes By Elizabeth Foy Larsen


A Predator’s Return

The wolves of Cedar Creek reserve By Emily Sohn



History: First Mates

10: Jayme Halbritter • 29: Mark Luinenburg • 34: courtesy Karen Kaler

A look at the U presidents’ spouses, back to 1869 By Ann Pflaum and Jay Weiner

On the Cover This great horned owl, photographed with Ramona, is a centerpiece of the Bell Museum’s famed Touch & See Lab. Most of the taxidermied animals at the Bell were obtained many decades ago, before people could watch wolves and bears in the wild 24/7 on Animal Planet. The animals were placed in natural-looking settings—dioramas—in order to engender familiarity, understanding, and, yes, sympathy. Photo by Sara Rubinstein

40 Off the Shelf

Daydreaming, angels, and a new mystery By Lynette Lamb

42 Alumni Stories

Jack Dangermond saves some coast, Jane Harstad lifts American Indian education, two alumnae launch the Coven, and Michelle Larson oversees medical cannabis

48 Stay Connected


Success stories from the Maroon and Gold Network, winners of the Morse-Alumni Award, and UMAA survey results

52 Heart of the Matter A gift grows community By Randall Wehler

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“Having our wedding at McNamara was such a dream!” Alumni Association Life Members receive $100-$300 off their wedding package. Call today for a tour or visit our website to check available dates, view photos, and sample floorplans.

le i la b


8 va y, May 1 15 A Now aturda ne 1 &

S , Ju y a rd Satu

“The University of Minnesota has been such an integral

have been happier with how the day turned out.” — RACHEL & ALEX SCHWEGMAN, U OF M ALUMNI


Photos by Grace V. Photography

a natural fit to get married at McNamara. We couldn’t

Jim Abrahamson, ’81 Eric Brotten, ’03 Rachel Cardwell Patrick Duncanson, ’83 Natasha Freimark, ‘95 Catherine French, ’79 Chad Haldeman, ‘08 Mark Jessen, ’85 Matt Kramer, ’84 Maureen Kostial, ‘71 Peter Martin, ‘00 Akira Nakamura, ’92 Peyton N. Owens, III Trish Palermo Roshini Rajkumar, ‘97 Clinton Schaff, ‘00 Kathy Schmidlkofer, ‘97 Ann Sheldon, ’88, ’04 Tony Wagner, ’96, ’06 Myah Walker, ’10 UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA GOVERNANCE President Eric Kaler, ’82 Board of Regents David McMillan, ’83, ’87, chair Kendall Powell, vice chair Thomas Anderson, ’80 Richard Beeson, ’76 Linda Cohen, ’85, ’86 Michael Hsu, ’88 Dean Johnson Peggy Lucas, ’64, ’78 Abdul Omari, ’08, ’10 Darrin Rosha, ’90, ’91, ’93, ’96 Randy Simonson, ‘81 Steven Sviggum

2 01 9 :

part of our lives and our relationship that it felt like such

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair Sandra Ulsaker Wiese, ‘81 Chair-elect Douglas Huebsch, ‘85 Past Chair Dan McDonald, ’82, ‘85 Secretary Scott Wallace, ’80 Treasurer Laura Moret, ’76, ‘81 President and CEO Lisa Lewis

To join or renew, change your address, or get information about membership, go to or contact us at: McNamara Alumni Center 200 Oak St. SE, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55455-2040 800-862-5867 612-624-2323 The University of Minnesota Alumni Association is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employ­ment without regard to race, religion, color, sex, national origin, handicap, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

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The Perspective Machine

Jennifer Vogel (B.A. ’92) can be reached at


EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING President and CEO Lisa Lewis Editor Jennifer Vogel Senior Editor Elizabeth Foy Larsen Copy Editor Susan Maas Contributing Writers Lynette Lamb Susan Maas Deane Morrison Ann Pflaum Mason Riddle John Rosengren Emily Sohn Randall Wehler Jay Weiner Art Director Kristi Anderson Two Spruce Design Senior Director of Marketing Lisa Huber Advertising Send inquiries to or call 612-626-1417 Minnesota Alumni ISSN 2473-5086 (print ) is published four times yearly by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, 200 Oak St. SE Suite 200, Minneapolis MN 55455-2040 in SEPT., DEC., MAR., and JUN. Business, editorial, accounting, and circulation offices: 200 Oak St. SE Suite 200, Minneapolis MN 55455-2040. Call (612) 624-2323 to subscribe. Copyright ©2017 University of Minnesota Alumni Association Periodicals postage paid at St. Paul, Minnesota, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address corrections to: Minnesota Alumni, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. SE, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55455-2040.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Send letters and comments to

Sher Stoneman

WHEN I WAS A KID, I visited the downtown Minneapolis planetarium, which was inside the old central library. I was living in South Dakota, so I’d seen stars aplenty. But having the constellations explained to me was a revelation. This was space, the final frontier. And I was boldly going where no man had gone before. Sitting under that dome as dots of light shifted overhead helped me see beyond my own kid problems. Beyond my town. Beyond my planet, even. The new Bell Museum’s planetarium is one of the most advanced in the country. It’s huge. It’s high definition. And its seats are really, really comfortable. But one thing it has in common with even the lowliest of its predecessors—by comparison, the Minneapolis planetarium of my youth may as well have been shooting light through an old tennis ball with a flashlight—is the ability to make one feel insignificant. Or, if you prefer, part of something much larger and grander than our everyday lives. There is a reason seemingly unanswerable questions are referred to as “cosmic”: Where do we come from? Is there life out there? Was there a beginning of time? Does the universe have an edge beyond which there is nothing? I’m not the kind of person who spends a lot of time wondering if our universe exists within a speck of dust on the tutu of a ballerina. In fact, I have spent my life working in the decidedly un-cosmic and down-to-earth field of journalism. I have concerned myself with human problems and issues and even, once or twice, dubious fashion trends. But I’ve always appreciated the perspective that comes from thinking about what lies beyond planet Earth, which from space appears eerily serene and independent of us. When I started as an undergraduate at the U in the late 1980s, one of the first courses I took was “descriptive astronomy,” which was listed in the course catalog thusly: “The sun, moon, planets, stars, and material between the stars; the galaxy and universe to which the sun belongs. Nonmathematical.” The absence of mathematics was critical, of course. I remember that the professor, who bounded down the center aisle to start each class, was always disheveled, with crazy hair, an untucked shirt, and deeply wrinkled pants. Nobody saddled him with mundane rules dictating dress. Sartorial matters were small potatoes in his world. We discussed questions surrounding the origin of our universe, such as: How can something come from nothing? Can religion and science live together if we make God the orchestrator of the big bang? But the best moment came when the professor let us listen to a pulsar, or neutron star, as its beams of radiation crossed the Earth and were picked up by a radio telescope. I’m sure by today’s standards, this is the equivalent of getting excited about Pong. But then, it was akin to eavesdropping on a distant, interstellar conversation. I can hardly wait to visit the Bell’s planetarium—officially called the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium—once it’s up and running in July, and again ponder life’s grand questions. I’ll wear my shirt untucked, of course, and my pants will be appallingly wrinkled.

A Few of My Favorite Numbers I’M A CHEMICAL ENGINEER and,

so, a numbers guy. Here are a few numbers that represent the trajectory we’re on as a university and the principles we stand for. Let me start with a nice round number: 8. It reveals just how good we are these days. And you don’t have to take it from me, but from the respected Center for Measuring University Performance (CMUP), which crunches numbers and measures the across-the-board excellence of the nation’s universities. These are not the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which often are gamed by colleges. The people at CMUP examine, among other things, every public university’s federal research dollars, incoming ACT scores, faculty named to their national academies, endowments, and philanthropic giving. In total, they look at nine categories to paint a full picture of an institution, and then determine which public universities rank in the top 25 in all nine categories. And guess what? Only 8 in the entire nation rank so high in all the categories. Ohio State, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Oh . . . and us! Yes, we’re one of the 8 best public research universities in the nation. And, by the way, we’re also the 8th most active public research university in the nation. We spend about $900 million a year on discoveries, from pharmaceuticals to plastics to medical devices to water quality to educational software.

Healing the planet begins in Minnesota A gift in your will drives research into some of the planet’s biggest challenges: water availability, agriculture and food, energy efficiency, and climate change. Learn more at waystogive or call Planned Giving at 612-624-3333.

But a number is only as good as what it represents. Which leads to the number 32 and a fellow from Wadena, Minnesota, named Robby Grendahl. Robby was 15 years old— 32 years ago—when, while playing hockey, he suddenly couldn’t catch his breath. He became light-headed and he and his parents soon learned that he was suffering full-blown heart failure. He was rushed to our University of Minnesota hospital and became the youngest patient ever to receive a heart transplant there. Now, at 47 years old, Grendahl is the longest-surviving male heart transplant patient in the nation. Because of that transplant, he was able to marry his high school sweetheart. He’s got two kids and takes just two pills a day, a lot fewer than most of us old alums! Which leads to another number I like: 26. This is all about access and opportunity. About 26 percent of our students on the Twin Cities campus are first-generation college students, just like I was in my family. Our role as a gateway to success and opportunity is why I’m so committed to public higher education. We must continue to be a driver of social mobility in our state and nation even as there are troubling educational and economic gaps in our society. Education is the path to a better life. Excellence, discovery, health care, saving and changing lives, offering opportunity: These are more than numbers and they add up to who and what we are at the University of Minnesota. Follow me on Twitter @PrezKaler. Or, feel free to write to


A Special U Partnership Carol Fuller, a 1969 U graduate, recently

The U relationship started with spirited

retired and moved to Abiitan Mill City in

conversations between Dr. Amelious Whyte,

[above: Dr. Sonja Kuftinec with student Mike Thurston]

Downtown Minneapolis. She says it’s like

the College of Liberal Arts Public Engagement

When Amelious put out his call for faculty

being in college again. So much to do. So

Director, and Abiitan Programming Director

volunteers, Dr. Sonja Kuftinec and Dr. Peggy

much to learn. So much fun to be had.

Tommaso Cammarano, who have since built a

Nelson were among the first to respond.

“I wake up and wonder what I’m going to do

virtual bridge between the university and the

Sonja, Professor of Theatre, and her student

today,” Carol says. “And there’s always something.”

senior living community.

Michael Thurston, use “TimeSlips” storytelling

Abiitan has robust lifelong learning programming

Tommaso reached out to Amelious after an

tapping many resources, including the expertise

introduction by Dr. Phyllis Moen, the McKnight

of University of Minnesota faculty and students,

Presidential Chair Professor of Sociology and

who share a wealth of knowledge with the

a 1978 Ph.D. graduate of the U. Phyllis’s

highly motivated residents.

acquaintance with Abiitan was a deeply personal

Carol, whose career was in teaching, now loves

one. Her husband, Dr. Dick Shore, was living

the freedom she has to learn. “I like that Abiitan

there because he needed memory care.

has young poets and musicians from the U coming

“I can’t speak highly enough of Abiitan and

in,” she says. “I want to be around young people.”

its energy, enthusiasm and vision,” says Phyllis,

Abiitan, the first senior living community in the

whose work focuses on helping the Baby Boom

core of downtown Minneapolis, is designed

generation find satisfying post-career lives.

specifically for the new wave of retiring Baby

“I’m very fond of Abiitan and its values and

Boomers who want an active urban lifestyle

goals. Abiitan pushes the boundaries up

now – and the confidence that they can age

several notches.”

in place with access to any services they may need as they get older.

Her husband recently passed away, but Phyllis remains connected to the many friends she made at Abiitan. Plus, she continues to have a professional interest in Abiitan as the founding director of the U’s Advanced Careers Initiative (UMAC) “for Boomers transitioning from career jobs into meaningful engagement.” The work she does on “encore

and creative expression to help memory care residents engage. It’s a technique developed by MacArthur Fellow Dr. Anne Basting (U Ph.D. 1995) that emphasizes imagination over memory. “When we imagine new worlds, we come alive together,” Sonja says. “We can make a world together that creates community and laughter.” Peggy is the Executive Director of the U’s Center for Applied & Translational Sensory Science and a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. She has visited Abiitan to talk with residents about sensory issues, such as hearing and vision loss. Tommaso plans to continue developing rich connections with the U, bringing two special places together to foster learning and personal development.

careers” has a welcoming audience at


Abiitan, where many of the residents are highly accomplished professionals who want [above: Carol Fuller – Resident of Abiitan Mill City]

to stay engaged and continue to contribute.

[above: Dr. Phyllis Moen – McKnight Presidential Chair Professor of Sociology]

Owned and Operated by:

What a pleasure to read about “The Warrior,” Fionnuala Ní Aoláin!


John Bernard (Ph.D. ’70), South Portland, Maine

Readers respond to our Spring 2018 issue on human rights. What a remarkable issue! Thank you for spreading the word about human rights initiatives and informing us all of the racist history at my beloved U of M. I am proud of the people working through the U to bring some equity to a disordered world. Mary Kemen (M.D. ’84) Cedar Rapids, Iowa Regarding the story “What’s in a Name?,” I feel it should be noted that the subjects of the article may not have been the first to study

the degree of prejudice and racism at the University of Minnesota in the first half of the 20th century. Please note Mark Soderstrom’s Ph.D. dissertation from 2004, “Weeds in Linnaeus’s Garden: Science and Segregation, Eugenics, and the Rhetoric of Racism at the University of Minnesota and the Big Ten, 1900-45.” Neal Ross Holtan (Ph.D. ’11) Golden Valley, Minnesota

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Send letters and comments to

Editor’s response: Absolutely, this information has come to light before, as in the 2002 Minnesota feature article by Tim Brady, “The Way Spaces Were Allocated,” which quotes Soderstrom.

You’re Welcome Here. Our mission is to serve all students and the greater University community by enriching the campus experience and encouraging lifelong wellbeing. We are driven to develop leaders, foster supportive relationships, and inspire active living through recreation and wellness.



Styling Terry Brown, of Minnesotabased Museum Professionals Inc., arranges this lynx’s ruff just so for the new Bell Museum’s opening day. Photo by Sara Rubinstein 8 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018




t was the last Tuesday in March, but judging from the number of down parkas spotted shuffling across the Washington Avenue pedestrian bridge, it might as well have been the middle of December. Thankfully, the morning wind’s bite was softened by the hot coffee and fresh donuts from Grandma’s Bakery, which were being offered by the University of Minnesota Police Department and the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education. Students snapped up donuts of all varieties on their way to class, from tables also displaying flyers on sexual assault and buttons bearing messages like, “Don’t Be a Stranger to Consent.” A half dozen police officer stood nearby, looking friendly and ready to chat. Welcome to Cops N’ Coffee, a semiannual three-day event sponsored by the 10 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

At Cops N’ Coffee, campus police serve donuts with a side of information. By Elizabeth Foy Larsen

UMPD and its partners. Held on the U’s East and West Banks, as well as the St. Paul campus, the gatherings are informal opportunities to remind the greater U community of the resources available to help should the need arise. While the fall 2017 events focused on transportation issues—including bike and skateboard safety—the spring gathering was devoted to combatting sexual misconduct. “It’s about making sure students, faculty, and staff know that the UMPD is part of a bigger group supporting them,” says Police Chief Matt Clark, who struck

the right balance of warm and approachable while also being respectful of the reason for the event. “With 80,000 people and two hospitals, the U is a city in itself. We are better as a campus when we can respond to these needs.” The U has just launched an initiative to address sexual misconduct on all of its campuses. Through training and an extensive public health awareness campaign, the President’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct aims to change campus culture for the better. A 2016 study commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that an average of 10 percent of women were assaulted during a single academic year across the nine campuses examined by researchers. Cops N’ Coffee is a soft sell. In the event’s first 45 minutes, not a single person initiated a conversation with

Jayme Halbritter

Street Sweets

CC BY-SA 3.0/Runner1928

Carrie Hatler

Carrie Hatler


University Grove

the police officers on hand. Several filled their cups and rushed off, citing appointments or the need to get to class. And Clark admitted goodnaturedly that the donuts—not the advocacy—were the reason students were streaming out of Blegen Hall and toward the bridge and tables. (When the UMPD once offered healthy snacks, they had almost no takers; plus, donuts show a cheeky sense of humor.) The Aurora Center’s Legal Advocacy Coordinator Bronte Stewart-New, who was on-site to answer questions, says the events are important awareness-raisers for the entire U community. “It’s important to show we aren’t scary people,” she says. “Someone may be more likely to seek help if they know we aren’t faceless employees.”

TUCKED BEHIND a stand of trees next to the new Bell Museum, the land for the relatively unknown University Grove neighborhood was originally set aside in the 1920s by University of Minnesota Vice President William Middlebrook. After touring a community built for the employees of Stanford University, Middlebrook persuaded the U that such a neighborhood would be a great recruiting tool for faculty and administrators. His vision turned out to be so compelling that plans for a football field originally slated for the location—just across the St. Paul border in Falcon Heights—were switched to make way for the development. Central to Middlebrook’s vision was that the land in University Grove would be owned by the U; residents would own their homes and lease the land for a nominal fee. This unique ownership structure, which is still in place today, helped control development and costs as well as maintain architectural integrity

and character. Each of the 103 homes in the Grove was, per the community’s rules, designed by an architect. And what architects: The first house, a 1929 English Tudor on Folwell Avenue, was designed by William Ingemann, who was also the architect of Stillwater’s Lowell Inn. But while there’s no shortage of mint-condition Tudors, colonials, and Prairie-style ramblers, it’s the bounty of mid-century modern homes that serves as the neighborhood’s calling card. From Bauhaus to International Style, the Grove is a showcase of Minnesota modern architects including Ralph Rapson (the U’s longtime dean of architecture who designed the original Guthrie Theater and Riverside Plaza) and Winston and Elizabeth Close, who lived in the neighborhood and designed 14 homes there. Today, U employees still have priority when homes go on the market. So if an astrophysicist asks to borrow your lawnmower, you know why.

Adapted from Elizabeth Foy Larsen’s 111 Places in the Twin Cities That You Must Not Miss

We’re always going to be good teammates and be good to each other. Minnesota Lynx guard and legend Lindsay Whalen, speaking about her new role as head coach of the Gopher women’s basketball team, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press



Indispensable U: Minnesota’s economic generator A February report detailing the economic impacts of the University of Minnesota—all five campuses—over fiscal year 2017 yielded some eyepopping findings.

$8.6 billion

Combined economic impact annually for the state of Minnesota

$454 million Amount invested by the U in research in 2017, which translated into an economic impact of over

$1.2 billion 77,664

Number of jobs the University supports throughout Minnesota, making the U the state’s 5th largest employer


Percentage of U graduates who remain in the state to work after completing their degrees

$470.2 million State and local government revenue attributable to the U’s presence

Embracing the Bump The U’s Tourism Center helps communities flaunt their assets. CYNTHIA MESSER’S first job was at a snack bar, and she has worked in the hospitality and tourism field ever since. Now this Los Angeles transplant directs the University of Minnesota’s Tourism Center, which helps cities and towns across the state—regardless of size or location—develop their tourism industries by using what Messer calls “community-engaged” research. “We go into communities and listen and tap the local wisdom,” she says. Case in point: Messer recently helped pump up the number of visitors to Clinton, Graceville, and Beardsley (total population: 1,200) in Big Stone County. If you’re asking where the heck that is, you’re not alone. Indeed, identifying the area’s location was one of the chief challenges in drawing tourists to this proudly rural region. As it happens, these three towns cluster in the wedge of western Minnesota that juts into South Dakota, a distinction that Messer says helped community

members define themselves. After dubbing the region “MNbump,” locals have seen a significant increase in the number of tourists enjoying the area’s bicycle trails, 26-mile-long Big Stone Lake, and other recreation offerings. The initiative also spawned a website (, which provides tourism information and has become an important community development tool for the area. Big Stone County is among the dozens of Minnesota communities that Messer—a 25-year veteran of the Tourism Center, located in Coffey Hall on the St. Paul campus—and her colleagues have helped in the past few years. Tourism is a $15 billion industry in Minnesota, she points out, and employs more than a quarter million people across the state’s 87 counties. “We help communities see what they can do with our research,” she says. “And when we hear a story like MNBump it makes us feel great that we’ve made a difference.” —Lynette Lamb


The amount generated in Minnesota’s economy for every state dollar invested in the U

$131.4 million The annual community impact generated by U faculty, staff, and students through donations and volunteer time to local nonprofits

Based on the report Economic Impact of University of Minnesota FY17, prepared by Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Tripp Umbach.


The U helped communities in Big Stone County, in western Minnesota, draw more visitors.


Shameem Syeda and Gunda Georg are developing a promising, nonhormonal option.

Is the Time Right for Male Birth Control? A team of U researchers is pursuing an ingenious approach.

Leila Navidi/©2018 StarTribune

By Susan Maas


plant-based compound that turns sperm into slowpokes may be the key to male birth control that’s effective and reversible with minimal side effects, three University of Minnesota researchers believe. Gunda Georg, professor of medicinal chemistry and director of the U’s Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, and Shameem Syeda, principal scientist at the ITDD, may have an edge on other researchers developing oral contraceptives for men: Their compound is nonhormonal, so it shouldn’t cause the weight gain, libido changes, and potential cardiovascular risks associated with hormonal pills. For decades, different versions of a male hormonal birth control pill have come and gone without making it to market because they’ve

shown “a number of drawbacks,” Georg says. Her team started working on nonhormonal approaches 15 years ago, after the National Institutes of Health put out a call for proposals. “They saw that it’s maybe not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket,” she says, pun intended. “We don’t touch testosterone.” Syeda and Georg’s most advanced project revolves around a toxic substance produced by African plants that’s historically been used for poison arrows. Unaltered, the extract, ouabain, is known to disrupt heart function by interfering with the proteins that transport sodium and potassium ions through cell membranes. But it also thwarts a transporter protein found in mature sperm cells. Together with colleague Jon Hawkinson, research professor of medicinal chemistry and ITDD associate program director, Syeda and Georg devised a ouabain derivative that doesn’t affect the heart. “We took ouabain as a starting point and created a molecule, using chemical modifications, that’s a very selective, potent molecule,” Syeda explains. The result: inhibited sperm “motility.” Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 13

‘Sluggish’ sperm In other words, fast-swimming sperm are rendered listless and ineffectual. “With this approach, sperm are turning sluggish,” Georg says. And based on what they’ve seen in rat models, the change doesn’t impact sperm produced later. “We’ve seen some evidence that it would be reversible; it works only on the mature sperm,” Syeda adds. “Once treatment is stopped, it doesn’t show any effect on the new sperm.” Georg doesn’t anticipate long-term effects. “It’s not affecting sperm development, it’s not interfering with cell division or any processes related to DNA,” she says. “It just affects motility as far as we know.” A recent clinical finding in China affirms the U team’s line of inquiry. It turns out ouabain is naturally produced in small amounts in humans—and “men who have elevated endogenous ouabain are infertile compared to men who have normal levels,” Georg says. The team’s next step is to conduct rat “mating trials” that they hope will be funded by the NIH. “Then we need to establish that fertility comes back, and that the rats’ [postcontraceptive] offspring are healthy—and that there are no potential toxicities,” Georg says. “If we’re lucky, we could be doing a clinical trial in five years.” Shortly after the U study was published in the March 8 Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, another male contraceptive made headlines as University of Washington and UCLA researchers moved forward on a hormonal birth control pill, called dimethandrolone undecanoate, that temporarily suppresses testosterone and two other hormones required for fertility. That iteration of hormonal birth control seems to show significantly

reduced side effects, but any adverse consequences have been deal-killers for male contraceptives in the past. That, despite the fact that for decades, women have put up with the downsides of oral contraceptives. Sharing contraceptive responsibility In part, women have been more willing than men to tolerate oral contraceptive risks because pregnancy and childbirth also carry potential health impacts. But, with better male contraceptives on the horizon and changing cultural norms in many countries, the era of male birth control may finally be arriving. “People are changing, they’re more accepting,” Syeda says. “In India, for instance, older generations maintain that contraception is [only] for women, not men. But when we look at the younger generation, they are not thinking that way. They want to share the responsibility.” Georg agrees, and believes consumer demand will drive interest from pharmaceutical companies, which thus far have shown less-than-enthusiastic support for male oral contraceptive research. “I think there’s going to be dialogue about it; I’m quite convinced that this will be accepted,” Georg says. “Obviously not by everybody, because not everyone accepts contraception in general. “We’ve gotten many emails from men saying ‘when you start the clinical trial, I’m ready.’ And as more men take it up, the interest will grow. We want to expand opportunities for people to decide whether and when they want to start families.” Susan Maas is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor. She is also Minnesota Alumni’s longtime copy editor.

Shelling Out for Seemore About a decade ago, a sea turtle—now named Seemore—was hit by a boat in Florida, damaging her shell and trapping air beneath it. The injury made it hard for her to dive. After spending time in a turtle hospital in Florida, Seemore came to the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium in 2011. Caregivers there attach weights to her shell to help her dive. But, the solution is far from ideal. So, after a 2017 CT scan at 14 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

the U’s Veterinary Hospital, a team of mostly undergraduate students began working on a solution. They designed a shell prosthesis—called an exoshell—and, using equipment from the U’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine 3D Printing Core, printed a prototype. They fitted the 3D prototype exoshell on Seemore in early 2018 and hope to have a permanent model this summer. (H/T to Deane Morrison.)

Patrick O’Leary

U students create a 3D printed exoshell for an injured green sea turtle.



No Gain: Study casts doubt on opioid effectiveness As the opioid crisis generates daily headlines and takes center stage in public policy debates, University of Minnesota and Minneapolis VA Health Care System researchers have discovered something truly surprising about these highly addictive—and sometimes fatal—prescription drugs: When it comes to treating certain back, knee, and hip pain, they’re no more effective than nonopioid alternatives such as acetaminophen. This research began when Erin Krebs, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the U and the trial’s lead author, was a medical fellow in North Carolina. She noticed her patients with chronic back pain and arthritic hips and knees weren’t experiencing relief from commonly prescribed opioids, including morphine and oxycodone, even when they took the drugs for years. But when Krebs looked for studies about the long-term effectiveness of opioids, she was surprised to find there were none. So, together with colleagues in Minnesota and Indiana, Krebs undertook a 12-month randomized trial involving 240 patients in VA primary care clinics. Half the group was treated with opioids, the other half with nonopioid pain relievers such as acetaminophen and topical lidocaine. The results showed that not only did the group receiving the nonopioids experience more improvement in pain intensity, they also had fewer side effects. Medical experts hope those conclusions lead to a reevalu-

ation of opioids—which have been heavily marketed as the most effective pain relief available—as a first-line treatment. The study was published in March in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

stream flows are high. (Other conservation practices are effective during lower flow conditions but get overwhelmed by higher water levels.) It’s an important finding, given that the protected status

Buffer Zones: How wetlands protect our rivers

of rivers and streams is uncertain under the Clean Water Act and court rulings expected this year could determine whether or not they will be safeguarded in the future. “Our work shows that wetland restoration could be one of the most effective methods for comprehensive improvement of water quality in the face of climate change and growing global demand for food,” said study coauthor Jacques Finlay, a professor in U’s College of Biological Sciences. This research was published in January in Nature Geoscience.

It’s not news that nitrate runoff from fertilizers has had a troubling impact on our rivers and streams, from worsening the quality of drinking water to creating the Gulf of Mexico “dead zone” at the mouth of the Mississippi River. But while the ramifications of nitrate concentrations have been studied extensively, there has been comparatively little research on how to mitigate the damage. That’s set to change now that researchers from the College of Science and Engineering’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and the College of Biological Sciences have determined that wetlands can be up to five times more efficient at reducing nitrates in water than the best land-based nitrogen mitigation strategies, especially when

Unequal Protection: Transgender Americans and health care If you are transgender or a person who is gender nonconforming (GNC), you’ve grown accustomed to the public debat-

ing the restrooms you use and whether or not you should serve in the military. Meanwhile, there’s an issue that doesn’t get as much public attention that may be critical when it comes to your daily life: access to health care. The U’s School of Public Health confronted that challenge head on by contributing to a national study that shows transgender and GNC individuals experience reduced access to care, which could have negative consequences for their long-term health. Led by U Assistant Professor Carrie Henning-Smith and Vanderbilt University Assistant Professor Gilbert Gonzales (Ph.D. ’15), researchers compiled data from the 2014-2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a survey of U.S. residents that looks at health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and the use of preventive services. The study found that not only are transgender men and women more likely to be uninsured than people who are cisgender—meaning people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth—transgender men are less likely to have a physician they rely on for routine care. As a result, transgender and GNC individuals are more likely to have missed a physical in the past year. This study was published in December in the The Milbank Quarterly. (H/T to U science and news writer Charlie Plain.)

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This polar bear has been in the Bell’s collection for decades, but has never been on display. Until now.


Nature gives up its secrets at the U’s epic new Bell Museum and Planetarium By John Rosengren • Photos by Sara Rubinstein

The Bell Museum has molted. It has left its cramped, dilapidated quarters on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus for a sustainable design of local granite, steel, white pine, and glass set among a pond and grassy fields on the St. Paul campus. Established in 1872 as the state’s natural history museum, the Bell has evolved from a collection of Minnesota still lifes into a dynamic, interactive journey that explores our place in space and time. When doors open in July, you can try to seduce a sandhill crane with a mating dance. You can walk around a freshly constructed, life-size woolly mammoth from prehistoric Minnesota. And the second floor rotunda invites you, among suspended planets, to ponder questions inked on the walls such as “Are we really made of stars?” Thirty percent bigger than its former home, the $79 million building, wrapped around a 120-seat planetarium, features an expanded Touch & See Lab, is topped by an observation deck and green roof, includes a new gallery to highlight faculty research, and has space to display temporary exhibits and items from the Bell’s expansive collection of 1.2 million specimens. The world-famous dioramas remain the backbone of the museum. Each one tells a story on its surface—and more underneath. Francis Lee Jaques, a renowned wildlife artist who spent part of his youth on a farm in Aitkin, Minnesota, and worked as an artist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, returned to Minnesota in the 1940s to paint the diorama backgrounds. He traveled to the settings for each scene, where he made sketches and painted color keys (color film was not reliable at the time), then returned to create amazingly realistic scenes with

oil on canvass adhered to the curved walls. Florence Jaques added secret details to her husband’s work like the small critter hidden on the ground in the tall grass among the sandhill cranes that one can uncover by zooming in on a touchscreen. Once the paintings were in place, taxidermists Walter Breckenridge and John Jarosz constructed the scenes with such care that it is difficult to distinguish where the floor ends and the wall begins. The wolf diorama tells how the museum got its former home on Church Street and University Avenue. James Ford Bell, General Mills founder and faithful conservationist, wanted to promote the nobility of wolves at a time when they were despised as vermin, but the museum’s location at the time (just east of Coffman Union) didn’t have the space to accommodate a wolf diorama. So, Bell donated half the funds for a new building. The diorama, completed in 1942, depicts three wolves hunting on Shovel Point in Tettegouche State Park. Jaques painted a deer among the birch trees and Breckenridge and Jarosz made plaster casts of the rocks at the site to recreate them. Bounty hunters contributed the wolves. The hunting scene casts the wolves as seen in the wild, in their natural setting, rather than in artificial poses, a portrayal that set the tone for future dioramas. It made the once undesirable wolves desirable. “These wolves were not understood at the time, but now they’re being used to teach people about the value of wolves in North America,” says Andria Waclawski, Bell Museum communications manager. The moose diorama tells the story of Breckenridge’s ingenuity. After blocking out the scene, Breck—as he was known—set out in 1944 with several other museum staff members and Pat Patterson of the



Right: The gray wolves in their new home, cleaned and refreshed, still standing before a Francis Lee Jaques landscape. Courtesy Bell Museum

Courtesy Bell Museum

Terry Chase, of Missouri-based Chase Studio, maps specimins before they are removed from the wolf diorama and moved to the new museum.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on a hunt south of the Canadian border. Patterson shot a moose that Breck thought would be too small but since they had a hunting permit for only one, he had to make do. They nailed together two logs as a stretcher to drag the moose with a tractor back to camp, where Breck photographed the carcass from various angles and made plaster molds of the eye and nose before he skinned it. He removed the legs and head as well as the flesh. Back at the museum, Breck, who had practiced taxidermy since he was a teenager, reconstructed the musculature of the moose with papier-maché over a makeshift skeleton using the measurements he had taken in the field. “The skin, which had been tanned without disturbing the hair, was preserved and cemented on the statue of the animal,” he wrote in his notes. He also fitted it with glass eyes made from the molds he had taken. But there was a problem. At six feet, the animal Breck had initially thought was too small was actually too tall for the diorama. Since the setting was to be the muddy shore of Gunflint Lake, he cut off three of the moose’s feet and sank the legs “deep into the mud with one leg lifted to show the character of the foot with its split hoof.” Jeff McNamara of Virginia-based Design and Production Incorporated installs a touchscreen that provides information about the tundra swans and their surroundings in this restored diorama. Visitors can access a “bring it to life” video, field guide information, and a “search it” function (inset, left).

Rejuvenating the dioramas Moving to the new Bell required equal ingenuity. To extract the dioramaswhich measure about 24 feet wide by 10 feet deep and weigh around 5,000 pounds—from their old home, workers had to cut the wall paintings into pieces, punch an Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 19

These vintage botanical models are made of wood and papier-maché.

Courtesy Bell Museum

Before and after. As part of the restoration process, experts removed decades of dust and smoke damage from the animals. They also touched up feathers and this elk’s tongue.

opening into the side of the building, cart them out on steel dollies, transport them by flatbed across the river, lower them by crane through a wall left open in the new construction, carefully reassemble the paintings, then meticulously paint over the cutlines so they are not discernible. The flora and fauna were moved with similar care. Many of the models had not been cleaned since their installation in the 4 ’ 0s and ’50s. Sediment from a nearby coal-burning power plant, smoke from visitors’ cigarettes, and natural dust had seeped into the unsealed display cases. Everything was gently dusted before the move, and the wall paintings were swaddled in shrink-wrap that lightly adhered to the paintings and peeled off a layer of dust when removed. Museum workers spent months painstakingly cleaning and reconstructing the scenes in their new home. Each of the hundreds of leaves in the wood duck diorama, for instance, was gently washed by hand and glued in place on the ground. The red plumage, which had faded on a rosebreasted grosbeak, was touched up with a special dry pigment. An elk’s tongue was repainted pink. Drawing from clues in the scenes and notes from the artists’ journals, restoration experts made adjustments as they reconstructed the dioramas to enhance their verisimilitude. They scattered molted feathers among the snow geese, lowered plants behind the elk, rippled the water dammed by beavers, and moistened the mud tromped by the moose. Now set behind nearly invisible double-paned glass with LED lighting in climatecontrolled cases, the scenes provide even more realistic snapshots from around the state. Technology drives insights In the new museum, old specimens remain fresh in what they have to teach us, thanks to DNA analysis. “These older specimens allow us to travel back in time,” says George Weiblen, the Bell’s science director and a U professor of plant and microbial biology. “They are a point of reference that show how we’ve changed and where we’re headed.” An interactive gallery in the permanent exhibit space showcases the discoveries being made by U researchers around the planet and from within the existing collection. Plaques and sketches explain a new bacteria a University team found living far underground in the Soudan mine on the


The Bell Museum’s full-scale woolly mammoth and Castoroides, or giant beaver, are biological replicas fabricated at Blue Rhino Studio in Eagan, Minnesota. They are part of a walk-through diorama depicting animals that roamed this region during the last ice age. On the far right, we see a clay model from an early stage of the design process.


The Bell’s famed Touch & See Lab was the first of its kind in the country. By allowing visitors to interact with bones, feathers, and fur, a 1960s public education coordinator named Richard Barthelemy brought learning out from behind the glass.


John Rosengren is an award-winning journalist based in Minneapolis and an adjunct instructor at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The polar bear waits to move into its new home in the Bell’s global “diversity wall,” along with other specimens from the museum’s vast collection of fungi, fish, and mammals. The etched glass in the foreground is a depiction of the tree of life.

Courtesy Bell Museum

Iron Range and several species of fig tree Weiblen gathered in New Guinea. Weiblen named one of the new figs Ficus rubrivestimenta, or “fig of the red cloth,” because indigenous people use its dye to decorate grass skirts. No scientist had previously identified the tree as a unique species. Insects led him to another new strain of fig tree when he observed them showing preference for one over another while pollinating. “They could tell them apart but botanists couldn’t,” he says. Once he examined the figs’ DNA, he found microscopic differences among specimens that had already been collected but not yet identified as unique. “We often find new species among old specimens,” Weiblen says. “We are able to use DNA preserved in specimens to see how they are related and divergent.” That’s how Sharon Jansa, U associate professor of ecology, evolution, and behavior, discovered a new species of mammal. She explains on a kiosk video how genetic sequencing on a mouse that once lived in the trees of the Philippines allowed her to identify its lineage. Her specialty is mapping evolutionary history, the way genes are transferred among populations. “A certain excitement happens in front of the computer screen,” Jansa says. “The Bell is critical to understanding biodiversity as part of the bigger network of natural history museums and their collections throughout the world.” The specimens in the dioramas and elsewhere in the Bell’s vast collection, gathered before most visitors were born, continue to be useful in new ways. For instance, the wood duck diorama, completed in 1952, depicts flowers and plants beginning to bloom in late April. Now, those same flowers and plants bloom a month earlier, providing valuable documentation of climate change. Ultimately, the museum challenges us in the way we see and live in our world today at a time when the rapid pace of daily life can distract us from looking closely at our natural surroundings. “Hopefully this inspires you the next time you’re outside—camping or even in your backyard—to appreciate how much life is around you,” Waclawski says. “We’re empowering people to see more.”

IF YOU GO... Bell Museum grand opening, July 13-15 2088 Larpenteur Avenue West, St. Paul 612-626-9660 UMAA members receive a discount on Bell membership.

The grounds of the museum form a “living laboratory” with a pond, pollinator garden, and other sustainable landscaping. An enormous sundial adorns the parking lot. Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 23

DESIGNED WITH NATURE IN MIND Alumnus and lead Bell Museum architect David Dimond takes us on an insider’s tour. By Lynette Lamb David Dimond has designed prominent buildings all

Building images courtesty Perkins+Will

over the world, including a convention center in South Korea and the U.S. embassy in Chile, but rarely has he been so excited about a project as he is about the new Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. Dimond (B.Arch. ’89), the son of an architect, is the design principal at the Minneapolis office of Perkins+Will. He is also a hometown boy, the youngest of eight children, who grew up in St. Paul’s Crocus Hill neighborhood. Despite coming of age surrounded by blueprints, Dimond didn’t immediately gravitate to the U’s architecture school. When he graduated from high school in the 1970s, his father’s business had hit a rough patch, making tuition money impossible to come by. Instead, Dimond worked on the assembly line at the Ford Motor Plant, and later as a flight attendant. He was in his early 20s before he began studying architecture. By then he was married, and by the time he completed his degree, Dimond and his wife, Gail, had three children (the youngest graduated from the U in 2016 with her own M.Arch.). On a recent tour of the new Bell with Dimond, it was obvious that even after 30 years of practice, his enthusiasm for architecture remains undiminished. He pointed out some of the many unique and noteworthy features he and his 14 Perkins+Will colleagues carefully worked into the 90,000 square foot museum.

Francis Lee Jaques’s famous dioramas influenced the building’s exterior design, says Dimond. “We wanted the building to be a series of beautiful ‘story’ boxes that would captivate audiences on the outside just as Jaques’s dioramas do on the inside.” 24 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

The building’s exterior is partially covered in Minnesota eastern white pine, thermally modified or “cooked” to eliminate most moisture (thus allowing it to last decades without further treatment). And the exterior steel, made from Minnesota iron ore, will naturally weather to create a permanent, protective patina.

To give the museum a “gateway to the University” street presence, it was built as close as possible to the corner of Larpenteur and Cleveland Avenues. At night, the museum will glow from within. A stunning, enormous Minnesota ice age scene, complete with woolly mammoth, will be visible from the street.

The building is designed to have an open, airy feel. Two entrances allow for multiple groups of visitors to enter with ease. (Bell staff expect up to 50,000 schoolchildren per year.)

Sara Rubinstein

And large windows encourage patrons to experience what Dimond calls “a monumental connection to the outdoors.” These windows led to discussions with the curatorial staff, he says. “They were understandably worried about fading the exhibits.” The solution? The architects “carefully oriented the glass,” chose glass that blocks most UV light, and installed daylight sensors on window shades. All window glass is bird-safe, silk screened with ceramic lines that are invisible to humans from a distance. Nature is woven into the design, inside and out. The lobby’s terrazzo-like polished concrete floor features a blue and green depiction of a flowing river. And, in the courtyard outside, there stands a trio of large stone cylinders, granite plugs pulled from the ground in Northern Minnesota during a long-ago mining operation.



The Bell Museum’s new planetarium brings the universe home. By Deane Morrison traveler shoots up into the void. In seconds, Earth recedes to a blue dot, the solar system shrinks to a bubble, and a faint blur grows and resolves into a star circled by seven tiny exoplanets. The year: 2018. Once the realm of science fiction, virtual journeys through the stars—or along any other path traced by science—will become reality in July, when the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Planetarium opens at the University of Minnesota’s new Bell Museum. The unveiling restores and enhances an experience lost to the region when the planetarium at the former Minneapolis Central Library closed in 2002. 26 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

Located on the St. Paul campus, the new 120-seat planetarium employs space-age tools for sending visitors anywhere in the universe. Using laser light from two highresolution digital projectors, it casts images onto a screen that mimics the natural dome of the sky. The screen comprises 226 aluminum panels, seamlessly riveted together and attached to a suspended frame. The structure weighs over 12,000 pounds. “We’re the first in the world to have this kind of screen,” says planetarium manager

Sally Brummel. “We can [display] the classic night sky, any time or from any place. We’re not limited to viewing space from Earth. We just enter the coordinates and time, and we get there right away. “Anything you can show on a computer, you can show in the planetarium,” she adds. “But a computer can’t immerse you in a

Sara Rubinstein • Photo illustration by Kristi Anderson

Stretched out in a tilt-back seat, a space

U physics and astrophysics student Kaitlin Ehret, who works at the Bell as an education assistant, takes in the Veil Nebula at the new planetarium.



Here we see the Bell’s new permanent exhibit, “Life in the Universe,” while still in progress.

scene the way the planetarium can.” Utilizing 360-degree views, the planetarium’s first show will be an original production, written by celebrated Minnesota author Shawn Otto, about the state’s place in the cosmos. Visitors eager to see actual stars and planets can do so from the planetarium’s outdoor observation deck, located on the museum’s roof. It will be outfitted with telescope mounts, with observing possible both at night and, thanks to solar filters, during the day. While the planetarium will focus on exotic objects like the Trappist-1 stellar system—the aforementioned star orbited by seven dwarf exoplanets—the telescopes will reveal more accessible jewels like lunar craters, several moons of Jupiter, and the Orion Nebula, a gigantic sweep of bright gas and dust where stars are forming at a breakneck pace.


The planetarium’s programming extends to a new permanent museum exhibit, “Life in the Universe.” It will cover, among other topics, “how Earth formed and what the requirements are for a planet to be able to host life,” says U astrophysics professor Lawrence Rudnick, who helped design the installation. With input from a cross section of U scientists, the planetarium is poised to help students and the public see Earth in new ways. Brummel is working on stories about Minnesota water, using technology that can project up-to-date images of state and global water patterns on the planetarium screen. “We can see rivers and lakes and overlay data that show, for example, what’s happening in different lakes,” she explains. Adds Rudnick: “In its new digital form, the planetarium allows us to share U of M research—the discoveries the public is paying for—with the public.” If the planetarium has a main goal, it’s to generate for visitors the sense of adventure and delight scientists feel whenever nature reveals a secret. “Our mission means meeting audiences where they are and opening their eyes to the world researchers see when they investigate the cosmos, or when they study how a raindrop makes its way from a Minnesota field through the groundwater system into the Mississippi River and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico,” says George Weiblen, Bell Museum science director and curator of plants. “We can also flow along with blood through the human circulatory system, or fly with migrating birds and butterflies, all of which can be visualized on a digital dome.” Bell Executive Director Denise Young says she is excited to be part of returning a public planetarium to Minnesota, especially given its extraordinary versatility. “Together with our audiences in the planetarium, we will be able to explore those ‘big questions’ we all ask from time to time,” she says. “We’ll be able to wonder together.” U writer and editor Deane Morrison writes the Minnesota Starwatch newsletter for the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics.

AMONG THE BUGS Alumnus David Neitzel’s job with the state health department will make your skin crawl.

Mark Luinenburg

By Elizabeth Foy Larsen

“It’s like a butterfly,” says David Neitzel, as he

helps me adjust the focus on the microscope in his windowside cubicle at the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul. Neitzel (B.S. ’84, M.S. ’90) is an epidemiologist and the state’s go-to bug guy. He supervises the health department’s Vectorborne Disease Unit, and he sees nuance and beauty in insects that most people would prefer to simply swat and kill. Today, he’s talking about the scales on the wings of Aedes triseriatus, better known as the eastern tree hole mosquito, a noted carrier of La Crosse encephalitis. Any resemblance between this delicate gray arthropod and nature’s showiest pollinator is lost on me. But Neitzel’s genuine affection for these creatures keeps me looking. The tree hole mosquito, he explains, is similar in appearance to the Japanese rock pool mosquito, except that its body is more silvery and it doesn’t have bands of white on its legs. The way Neitzel tells it, these markers are as distinct as the plumage on a bird or leaves on a tree. For more than three decades, Neitzel has been on the front lines of identifying, monitoring, and preventing vectorborne diseases in Minnesota.

As illnesses linked to “vectors,” such as ticks and mosquitos, appear in and spread across the state, Neitzel is on the scene, gathering information and telling the public how to avoid falling prey. When the tick-triggered red meat allergy known as “alphagal”—normally found farther south and linked to the lone star tick—surfaced in Minnesota recently, Neitzel explained that lone star ticks are still rare in the state, but moving north. He’s scouted local car tire dealers to discover Asian tiger mosquitoes, which were accidentally imported into the United States through shipments of tires from South Korea and are possible carriers of the Zika virus. In 2002, he was part of a team that identified West Nile virus for the first time in Minnesota, an event that became an immersion experience in talking to the press. And, in 2016, he and a team identified Borrelia mayonii, a novel species of bacteria that causes an especially virulent form of Lyme disease in the upper Midwest. “One of the constants in our field is that the world’s a small place and people are moving around all the time and will assist the movement of other animals and pathogens,” he says. Neitzel’s accomplishments are impressive, but he Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 29

wears them lightly. “He’s an easygoing, lighthearted guy,” says Daniel Ziemann, one of Neitzel’s student workers, who recently received his master’s from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. “He has good stories about being out in the field for years and years” and revels in sharing them. As a child growing up in what was then known as Lebanon Township—now called Apple Valley—Neitzel displayed an interest in natural science from an early age. “My mom likes to tell me that she knew I’d be a biologist from birth,” he says. “They actually have a home movie of me crawling in our front yard in a diaper. I picked up a snake and it was biting me but I was too busy looking at it to care.” Neitzel spent his childhood largely outdoors, forging a strong connection to nature. “I spent a lot of time watching the change of seasons and how that affects all sorts of different things,” he says. When he started at the U in 1980, Neitzel explored that interest more deeply, majoring in wildlife management. Unfortunately, at the time



Neitzel earned his degree, he says the primary employers for graduates with his experience were the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, both of which had hiring freezes. Not having a ready-made path turned out to be an opportunity, however, as the lack of employment options made Neitzel wonder about other biology-related fields where he could have an impact. He remembered a class he took at the U on wildlife diseases. “Learning about diseases and how they affect wildlife and how disease agents can jump from wildlife to people was always very interesting to me,” he says. In 1987, Neitzel enrolled in the U’s Environmental Health graduate program, which offered a focus in public health biology. While at school, he started an internship at the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District in St. Paul, one of the largest mosquito control agencies in the world. He created and launched the district’s vectorborne disease surveillance and control program, which still operates today. It would be easy to assume that his extensive knowledge of disease-carrying bugs puts Neitzel on guard every time he leaves the house. “Just the opposite,” he 30 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

says, with complete sincerity. “I think knowledge is power when it comes to vectorborne diseases. I know exactly when and where I’m at risk when I’m in the field.” In fact, Neitzel looks forward to the 10 percent of his job that’s spent outdoors monitoring ticks and mosquitos (the rest of the year he and his team are analyzing and reporting data). Each spring, just as the final snow melts, Neitzel heads out into the woods to perform tick surveys. Dressed in a pair of white coveralls with duct tape wrapped around his ankles, he drags a white canvas cloth behind him. And then he counts: blacklegged ticks (better known as deer ticks), wood ticks, and any other species that might cling to the drag cloth. Neitzel’s research has shown that, contrary to popular belief, blacklegged ticks, which carry myriad diseases including Lyme disease, prefer the humid conditions of the forest floor to open, grassy patches. Neitzel and his team bring the ticks back to the Department of Health, where they identify them and test for six different disease agents. By this means and others, they track the appearance and spread of vectorborne diseases in order to assess risk levels for people across Minnesota. (Neitzel calls Camp Ripley, a National Guard training site in Little Falls, a “tick wonderland.”) Over the course of his career, he’s seen enormous shifts, including the rise of Lyme disease and West Nile virus. At the department’s monitoring station in Itasca State Park, for example, Neitzel says that as recently as the mid-1990s, there were very few blacklegged ticks. Today, his team consistently finds them. Neitzel says this change could be due to a variety of factors, including a string of warmer winters, an increase in the population of whitetail deer (which ticks like to feed and breed on), and a change in logging practices that has resulted in younger forests with more brush. Neitzel recounts this development with the kind of detail and enthusiasm you’d associate with a statisticsobsessed baseball fan. But, his students say, he’s a natural storyteller. Which, it turns out, is a good thing, considering the public’s growing awareness of the dangers of vectorborne diseases. “Whenever my wife and I go to various social occasions she actually gets a little irritated with me because people will ask her, what do you do? She’ll say, ‘I’m an accountant,’” he says. “And then they’ll ask me what I do and then it stimulates a conversation.” Those unconventional ice breakers are just another way Neitzel leans into the same bugs most of us are eager to avoid. “I think people understand that the more they know, the better they can protect themselves.” Elizabeth Foy Larsen is Minnesota Alumni’s senior editor.

U scientists were thrilled when they spotted wolf pups at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. But with the wolves came promises and perils. By Emily Sohn


The first time University of Minnesota ecologist Forest Isbell saw the wolves, it was a crisp and sunny Monday morning in May 2015, and he was sitting in the passenger seat of a pickup truck. At the wheel was Jim Krueger, the building and grounds supervisor at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve—a 5,600-acre wildlife oasis located 35 miles north of Minneapolis and one of the U’s primary natural laboratories for long-term ecological research. The previous weekend, Krueger had spotted half a dozen wolf pups in a grassy field in the middle of the reserve. When Isbell heard about the sighting, the ecologist asked Krueger to drop everything and take him there. Neither expected to see the wolves out in the open. But after driving on a dirt road most of the way around the field, Krueger stopped the truck. Beneath a pine tree about 15 feet away were eight adorable wolf pups, tumbling over each other. Isbell, whose research has long focused on plants and soil, was so enamored of their playfulness that he says he felt like a kid again. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Isbell, a soft-spoken native of northern Iowa, whose two young children fight over the family’s one wolf stuffed animal. This was the first time in at least 100 years that a wolf den had been spotted so close to the Twin Cities; it was little more than a half hour’s drive from the metro.

Photos courtesy Jacob Miller

Trail cameras captured images of wolves discovered at the U’s Cedar Creek reserve, near the Twin Cities.

New territories Right away, Isbell began to dream about the research possibilities. The arrival of the wolves in Cedar Creek would offer an opportunity to study basic yet poorly understood questions around what happens to a landscape when top predators return. “I’ll be honest,” says Isbell, who now leads a team of five researchers studying the wolves of Cedar Creek, “the wheels started turning immediately in my mind.” Next, he started to wonder—and worry—about the people living near Cedar Creek in the adjacent city of East Bethel. As wolves have been expanding into new territories around the world, they have been causing trouble for humans. In the months after the den was discovered, the new arrivals were suspected of killing two dogs and a calf. People complained, and federal trappers euthanized most of the wolves, including the Cedar Creek breeding pair and some of their year-old pups. At least one wolf still visits the reserve on a regular basis. Now, as Minnesota’s protected wolf population continues to grow and expand, Cedar Creek researchers are waiting for more wolves to arrive. In the meantime, they are also exploring ways to keep the peace, including educational efforts to help Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 31

neighbors protect their animals from wolves. If they can pull it off, the achievement will attract international attention. “We expect the wolves will continue to come back,” Isbell says. “If they don’t cause trouble, we may be able to learn to coexist with wolves in this part of the state.” The Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve doubles as an environmental enclave and a field station, cramming all of Minnesota’s major ecosystems into nine square miles of grasslands, oak savannas, bogs, and more. There is one big lake, a few smaller ones, a creek, and a few trails that offer access to the public. But most of the reserve’s pines, cedars, and maples remain off limits to all except gophers, eagles, bears, deer, otters, and fishers—and the scientists involved in the longestrunning ecological study in the world. Since the 1940s, University of Minnesota researchers have mined Cedar Creek for data, measuring everything from rainfall and rodent density to sapling growth and rabbit numbers. It’s an unrivaled wealth of information. “We have more data of what’s going on in the last few decades in Cedar Creek than literally anywhere else on Earth,” Isbell says, adding that the reserve was the site of the very first biodiversity study in the world. That kind of long-term information offers a unique opportunity to look beyond year-to-year variability and instead connect dots between trends, adds ecologist Meredith Palmer, a U of M postdoctoral researcher who has worked in Tanzania, South Africa, and other countries with the U’s lion researcher Craig Packer. “Cedar Creek is bursting at the gills with data,” she says. “It’s a data set people dream about.” At least until 2015, eight decades’ worth of data from Cedar Creek had been collected in the absence of wolves. Members of the dog family, wolves were once widespread across the continental United States, including in Minnesota. But hunting, habitat destruction, and a federal poisoning program pummeled their populations throughout the early 20th century. By the 1950s, Minnesota’s wolf numbers had declined to fewer than 750. Most lived in the northeast corner of the state. Landscape of fear Gray wolves were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967. After a brief delisting, they regained threatened status in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan in 2014. Those protections allowed them to rebound. By 2017, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota was home to more than 2,800 wolves. And as their populations have grown, they have moved farther south and west. Since the 1990s, packs of wolves have 32 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

lived near Lake Mille Lacs, about 65 miles north of Cedar Creek, with lone wolves occasionally wandering toward the Twin Cities. The 2015 den was a sign that wolves were comfortable enough to settle close to the metro. Luck is only part of the reason that wolves wandered into such a well established outdoor laboratory, says Nancy Gibson, cofounder of the International Wolf Center in Ely. Young wolves typically strike out in search of new territories, and Cedar Creek offers a protected landscape full of deer and other prey. Her hope is that the return of wolves to the area will help restore an elusive balance between predators and prey, potentially controlling problems ranging from Lyme disease to deercaused crop damage. “You have to remember, these animals evolved together,” Gibson says. “When you have an ecosystem that doesn’t have a predator around, it might be fine for humans. But it isn’t fine for the habitat.” Nobody expects Minnesota to return to what it was before the wolves disappeared from the region a century ago. But Cedar Creek researchers are eager to see what will happen next. Isbell has set up a grid of more than 100 thermal, motion-sensing trail cameras. Fences have been erected so the team can compare landscapes with and without predators or prey. And, accompanied by U of M wolf expert David Mech, Palmer plans to lug buckets of wolf urine and scat into the reserve to see how prey react to signs of a predator they may not have encountered in decades. Based on her work in Africa, Palmer is prepared for the unexpected. When lions were reintroduced to reserves after a long absence, she says, the “landscape of fear” had been disrupted, and some prey populations didn’t seem to know how to protect themselves. Nobody is certain whether Cedar Creek’s deer and other potential wolf prey will act similarly unfazed, or if they will alter their movements, in turn affecting the plants they eat and the entire ecosystem. Equally uncertain is how attitudes will evolve within adjacent communities, says Isbell. On a cold April afternoon in his office on the St. Paul campus, he scrolled through images of Cedar Creek’s inaugural wolf pack, captured by trail cameras in May 2016. For him, it was a sad day when trappers came and took the wolves away. Now, his team is partnering with the International Wolf Center to communicate with neighbors and increase the possibility for interspecies acceptance. “Most Minnesotans like wolves, but most don’t like to live close to wolves,” Isbell says. “Whether we can coexist has yet to be seen.” Emily Sohn is a freelance journalist in Minneapolis whose stories have appeared in the Washington Post, Nature, bioGraphic, and other publications.



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First Mates

Back to 1869, these women served as the University of Minnesota presidents’ indispensable partners. By Ann Pflaum and Jay Weiner With an introduction by Karen Kaler

HE ROLE OF University of Minnesota president’s

spouse began as a largely social one. But, moving through time, University “first ladies”—yes, so far they have all been women—championed causes, drove fundraising efforts, and served as important ambassadors. I count myself lucky to have gotten to know partners of five of the previous 15 presidents. All five lived at Eastcliff, the official residence, where Eric and I also live. All are inspirational role models for me, remarkable women whom I greatly admire. Tracy Moos is such a delightful, intelligent woman that I increased my involvement in the University of Minnesota Women’s Club partly to see more of her. She carried out the duties of spouse while raising five children. I can’t imagine raising five children (we have two sons), much less while in this role. Among Diane Skomars Magrath’s many undertakings was a national survey of the role of university president’s spouse. Diane shared her files and mentored me as I joined with researchers to update and expand her survey, which can be found here: She also put together a notebook of Eastcliff information and history; I plan to follow up with a book. Bonita Sindelir is a joy to know. While working as a lawyer and raising a young child, she endured the challenge of living at Eastcliff 34 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

during a renovation—she and President Keller washed dishes in a bathtub. I am awed by how she handles life with grace. Judy Yudof is a great example of a modern presidential partner. She ran an important international organization—the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism—while in the role. She oversaw an Eastcliff remodeling project, and those embellishments continue to enhance the residence. Susan Hagstrum gave me much wonderful advice and generously introduced me to some of my closest friends. She chaired the spouses/ partners executive council of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. I later became chair of that council. While I never met Patricia Hasselmo, she inspires me, too. She did wonderful work increasing fundraising through Friends of Eastcliff. I have appreciated, and sought to continue, her efforts. It was while searching for information about Patricia’s work that I noticed the University had no documentation of presidential partners. These spouses have served the University well, so I am delighted that Ann Pflaum, the U’s historian, undertook this research.

SARAH FOLWELL: 1869-1884 Sarah Heywood was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1838. Her uncle was president of Hobart College, located in Geneva, New York, where she met her husband, William Watts Folwell. He graduated from the college in 1857. Heywood and Folwell were married in 1863 while he took a 10-day leave from the engineering corps of the Union Army during the Civil War. They would have three children. At the time Folwell became the first president of the University of Minnesota, in 1869, it had nine faculty members and 14 students. In 1883, as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and its school were being established, it was discovered that the school was short of students. Sarah Folwell recruited the spouses of three community leaders, all noted to have “painting experience,” to help fill the class. She died in 1921.

ELIZABETH NORTHROP: 1884-1911 Anna Elizabeth Warren was born in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1835. In 1862, she and Cyrus Northrop married after a six-year courtship.

While living in Connecticut, where he taught at Yale, the couple had three children. The family moved when he took the job of University of Minnesota president in 1884. Northrop reported that his wife “spoke warmly of their new surroundings” and the couple built a house on 10th Avenue Southeast, a 15-minute walk from campus, where they both lived until their deaths. Elizabeth Northrop was an active member of the First Congregational Church. As parents, they met hardship, outliving all of their children. She died in 1922.

LOUISE VINCENT: 1911-1917 Louise Palmer was born in 1864 in WilkesBarre, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Ellen Mary Webster and Henry Wilbur Palmer, who served as Pennsylvania’s attorney general and a U.S. congressman. A graduate of Wellesley College, Louise Palmer married George Edgar Vincent in 1890 and they had three children. Among Louise Vincent’s interests were dance and physical fitness. James Gray, in his history of the University of Minnesota, noted that Louise Vincent created a ballroom on the third floor of the presidential residence, the first provided by the University: “[H]ere undergraduates were turned free of official restraint to dance to the music of the piano player. At other times of the day, the dance floor became a basketball court onto which, stately, sometimes reluctant, faculty wives were driven by Mrs. Vincent’s resolute devotion to exercise.” She was engaged in other University

matters as well. In 1912, she presented four lectures on Guatemala through the newly established University Extension program. Two years later, she presented a play she wrote, A Cowboy in a Kurhaus, at the Shubert Theatre in Minneapolis as a fund-raiser for female students. She died in 1953.

NINA BURTON: 1917-1920 Nina Moses was born in 1875 in Faribault, Minnesota. She and Marion Burton were classmates at Carleton College and married shortly after their graduation in 1900. They had three children. Nina Burton was concerned about the well-being of female students. When her husband became president in 1917, she spoke to the University Women’s Self Government Association and a historian noted: “She laughingly remarked that being the president’s wife was merely an accident of fate for which she deserved no credit or blame. She said she surely belonged to Minnesota because she was a Minnesota girl, and had lived in nearly every small town as a child, for her father was a home missionary. She urged all the girls to come to her any time, either for advice or merely as a friendly call.” In 1920, Marion Burton left to become president of the University of Michigan, where Nina Burton’s work continued. She helped establish a women’s faculty club in Ann Arbor. She died in 1966.


MARY COFFMAN: 1920-1938 Mary Emma Farrell was born in Paoli, Indiana, in 1877. Her father was a circuit court judge. In 1899, Farrell married Lotus D. Coffman, Paoli’s high school principal. As Coffman’s career advanced, the couple moved from Indiana to Illinois to New York. They had two children. When Lotus Coffman became dean of the University’s School of Education in 1915, Mary Coffman began her long association with the Faculty Women’s Club and became known for her dedication to student welfare. In 1920, when Lotus Coffman became the University’s fifth president, Mary Coffman said, “With a daughter already in college and a son about to enter there this fall, how can I help but be interested, heart and soul, in all that pertains to the students?” In 1945, the Women’s Club created the Mary Farrell Coffman Scholarship. She died in 1957.

GRACE FORD: 1938-1941 Grace Ellis came from a farm family in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She and Guy Stanton Ford were graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They married in 1907 and had two children. 36 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

When Guy Ford joined the University faculty in 1913, Grace Ford became secretary to the board of the Faculty Women’s Club and, upon the outbreak of World War I, she represented the club in the Women’s Peace Party. That signaled her deep interest in global issues. She was the prime mover of the Women’s Club’s International Affairs Section, focusing on topics such as the Chinese-Indian border dispute, the roles of United Nations agencies, and the Caribbean. Grace Ford also served as northwest section director of the American Association of University Women. She died in 1974.

JENNIE COFFEY: 1941-1945 Jennie Lardner was born in 1880 in Newton County, Indiana. She was a cousin of journalist and short story writer Ring Lardner. She married Walter Coffey, of Hartsville, Indiana, in 1907, and they had two sons. The family was recruited to the University of Minnesota in 1921, when Walter Coffey became dean of the Department of Agriculture and director of the Experiment Station. Twenty years later, he became the University’s seventh president. In 1943, during World War II, Jennie Coffey hosted the annual meeting of the Faculty Women’s Club at the official residence of the University president—then on Fifth Street Southeast—where they discussed a bandage-making effort for the Red Cross. She died in 1963.

FREDA MORRILL: 1945-1960 Freda Rhodes and James Morrill both grew up in Marion, Ohio. They married in 1915, two years after Morrill graduated from Ohio State University. They had three children. The family moved from Ohio to Wyoming, where James Morrill served as president of the University of Wyoming, and finally to Minnesota where, in 1945, he became the University’s eighth president. Freda Morrill is said to have particularly enjoyed working with a University architect and designer in 1946 to remodel the interior of the official residence on Fifth Street Southeast. She died in 1977.

MARIAN WILSON: 1960-1967 Marian Wilson and O. Meredith Wilson met at Brigham Young University in 1937 when she was a student and he a history professor and debate team coach. They married in 1938 and had six children. O. Meredith Wilson became the University’s president in 1960. Soon after their arrival in Minnesota, Marian Wilson received a call from John Cowles, Jr., son of the publisher of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Cowles described a plan to persuade Irish stage director Tyrone Guthrie

to establish a theater in Minnesota, hoping Marian Wilson would host a lunch for Sir Tyrone and Lady Guthrie. She immediately accepted and helped facilitate this significant addition to the region. The Wilsons were the first presidential couple to live in Eastcliff, which was donated to the University by the Edward Brooks family. Marian Wilson died in 2011.

TRACY MOOS: 1967-1974 Margaret “Tracy” Gager was born in 1923, grew up in Washington, D.C., and attended Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. She met Malcolm Moos, a Johns Hopkins University professor, while on a blind double date with someone else. They were married in 1945 and had five children. The University was the scene of many student demonstrations during Malcolm Moos’s presidency. Tracy Moos recalled the atmosphere in 1967: “Students for a Democratic Society threatened to blow us up. Every day they would call and say, ‘Thirteen days, twelve days, and ten days,’ like a countdown. So the police stayed [at Eastcliff] night and day, which was wonderful for me because I had babysitters built in.” Tracy Moos established the Community Concern Section of the Faculty Women’s Club, describing it as a “way of exploring the whole state and the whole city and where the university connected itself.” Those connections extended globally as she accompanied her husband on trips to Morocco, related to forestry, and Tunisia, related to agriculture. She currently lives in St. Paul.

SANDRA MAGRATH: 1974-1977 Sandra Hughes and C. Peter Magrath graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1955 and married the same year. They had one child. Around this time, while Peter Magrath served as an artillery officer at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Sandra Magrath worked as a decoder of documents for the National Security Agency. After that, when Peter served on the faculty of Brown University, she was a proofreader for the American Mathematics Society and a copy editor at Brown University Press. When Peter Magrath became University president in 1974, Sandra Magrath analyzed the role of the president’s spouse thusly: “A great deal of this job is public relations work. I enjoy people, but I’m not going to be a slave to their unspoken expectations . . . I feel a wife should have a choice on how her life goes. Some women would prefer to be left out of their husband’s public work and pursue their home and children. I think neither should be censured by the public for her lifestyle.” In 1977, Sandra and Peter Magrath separated after 22 years of marriage. She died in 2013.

DIANE SKOMARS MAGRATH: 1978-1984 A native of Duluth, Diane Skomars earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth

in 1967 and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Superior in 1971. She was the first president’s spouse to graduate from the University and the second president’s spouse (after Nina Burton) to be born in Minnesota. In 1978, Skomars and University president C. Peter Magrath were the first and only presidential couple to be married at Eastcliff. At the time, Skomars was director of the Student Activities Center on the Twin Cities campus. Together, they raised a daughter. In recognition of the substantial workload of the spouse of a president, Magrath transferred $25,000 of his salary to her. Diane Skomars Magrath and University professor Roger Harrold conducted a survey of the spouses of presidents. The survey led to a book, coedited by Skomars Magrath and Joan E. Clodius, called The President’s Spouse: Volunteer or Volunteered, with essays from spouses, male and female. Skomars Magrath lives in Duluth, having retired from UMD as director of development.

BONITA SINDELIR: 1985-1988 Bonita Sindelir was born in 1946 in Warroad, Minnesota, and graduated valedictorian of nearby Baudette High School in 1964. That fall, she attended the University and studied English, drama, and speech communication. She worked part time at the University Hospitals and the Boynton Health Service to help cover tuition and living expenses. After graduating in 1968, she taught English and directed drama in a suburban Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 37

junior high, then studied in Mexico. In 1970, she returned to the University and became assistant to Graduate School Dean May Brodbeck. That’s where she met Associate Dean Kenneth Keller. Sindelir went on to earn her law degree from the University in 1978 and joined the U’s Office of General Counsel. In 1981, Sindelir and Keller were married. They had one son. In 1985, Keller became the University’s 12th president. To manage the roles of lawyer, spouse, and mother, Sindelir reduced her work to half time and used office vacation days to attend University events. Sindelir and Keller currently split their time between Minnesota and Italy.

PATRICIA HASSELMO: 1988-1997 Patricia Tillberg was born in 1930 in Moline, Illinois. Her mother played the organ in Lutheran churches and her father was a clergyman. She earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, where she met her future husband, Nils Hasselmo, a former Swedish exchange student who was teaching a language course. After graduation, she went on to earn a master’s degree in higher education from Syracuse University. For a time, she served as associate dean of students at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Tillberg and Hasselmo married in 1958 and settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as Nils earned a Ph.D. at


Harvard. They had three children. During Nils Hasselmo’s many years at the University of Minnesota—serving as faculty member, dean, vice president, and, ultimately, president—Patricia Hasselmo was active in, among other organizations, the Ebenezer Society, the Golden Valley School Board, and the Metropolitan Council. She died in 2000.

JUDY YUDOF: 1997-2002 Judith “Judy” Gomel was born in 1945 in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University with a mathematics degree. After graduation, she married Mark Yudof and took a job as a computer programmer while her husband attended the University of Pennsylvania law school. From 1971 through 1997, Mark Yudof was a faculty member and senior administrator at the University of Texas. Their two children were born during those Texas years. Mark Yudof became the 14th president of the University of Minnesota in 1997. Judy Yudof served on the boards of the Weisman Art Museum, the Tweed Museum in Duluth, the Goldstein Gallery on the St. Paul campus, Theatre Live, and the Chairman’s Council of Twin Cities Public Television. In 2002, she became the first woman to be elected international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. In 2006, she was named to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. The Yudofs live in Jupiter, Florida.

SUSAN HAGSTRUM: 2002-2011 Susan Hagstrum was born in 1948 to Hugh Vincent Hagstrum and Barbara Shirley Hansen. Her father and his three brothers were University of Minnesota graduates, and so devoted was the family to the U that her father’s middle name, Vincent, was a tribute to former U president George Edgar Vincent. After graduating from Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, Hagstrum majored in speech pathology at Northwestern University. In pursuit of her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, she met Robert Bruininks, a faculty member in the College of Education. They married in 1985. Two years later, she earned her Ph.D. with an emphasis on language acquisition by special needs children. From 1987 to 2002, she held positions in schools in Mounds View, Buffalo, and Chaska, Minnesota. In 2002, Bruininks became the University’s 15th president and Hagstrum focused her community involvement on four areas: children, the arts and humanities, education, and health. They currently live in Minneapolis.

The first store by KAREN KALER: 2011– Present Karen Fults was born in 1956 in Nashville, Tennessee. She earned a B.F.A. at the University of Tennessee in 1977 and continued there for graduate school. In the summer of 1979, she was working in a UT residence hall when Eric Kaler, a graduate student doing summer research, checked in. They married that December and made their first home near the University of Minnesota campus, where he completed a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. She worked in the Twin Cities as a graphic designer and continued in that field as his career took them to Seattle; Newark, Delaware; and Stony Brook, New York. They raised two sons. In 2011, Eric Kaler became the University’s 16th president. Karen Kaler has followed in the footsteps of her predecessors by being active in the University of Minnesota Women’s Club, volunteering in the community, and serving as an ambassador for the University. Recently, she published a children’s book about Eastcliff called Rusty Goes Swimming. She volunteers at the U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital and is an avid supporter of the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education.


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A note of thanks: This project would not have been possible without the research assistance of Mary Ford and University Archives staffers, as well as the photo expertise of Wally Swanson, Patrick O’Leary, and Chris Cooper. Thanks also to Nat Wilson of the Carleton College Archives and Susan Maas, an excellent editor.

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An Ode to Daydreaming, the History of Angels, and a Detective’s New Case It’s Minnesota Alumni’s quarterly books roundup. n this era in which no one admits to having a spare moment and everyone brags about how busy they are, it’s surprising to come across a book like the new one by Patricia Hampl. The Art of the Wasted Day (Viking) is a paean to the joys of silence, solitude, and most of all, uninterrupted times of ease. Hampl, the author of eight books of poetry and prose and a longtime creative writing professor at the University of Minnesota, has hardly led a life of leisure. Nevertheless, she starts this book by looking back at her own discovery of daydreaming, which she describes as “this inner glide, articulation of the wordless, plotless truth of existence . . . this effortless flight of the mind.” Only Hampl could so beautifully articulate something as ephemeral yet universal as daydreaming. A good Catholic girl from St. Paul, she is horrified to realize that the church considers daydreaming a kind of covetousness, an occasion for sin. And as a pre-Vatican II Catholic, she recognizes too that anything so sweet must also be sinful. Yet, despite years of to-do lists, accomplishments, and literary output, Hampl remains drawn to those characters from history who have lived lives of “honorable leisure,” no longer “awash in the brackish flotsam of effort.” She proceeds to travel the world exploring the homes and lives of the famously indolent: the Victorian “Ladies of Llangollen,” who spent half a century retired in the Welsh countryside; Gregor Mendel, father of genetics but also a gentle monk and gardener, who “passed his days within the liturgy of Hours;” and Michel de Montaigne, the writer/philosopher who famously defended 40 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

By Lynette Lamb

what Hampl calls “the imagination as the crucible of freedom,” once writing, “[i]t is an absolute perfection and virtually divine to know how to enjoy our being rightfully.” Hampl devotes many pages to Montaigne, struck by his insistence on the necessity of “wasted time” spent imagining and dreaming. “It is our rightful business,” Hampl paraphrases him, “to think, to muse, to wonder—to describe—using this image-beset faculty of mind for the job.” She travels to the French philosopher’s chateau near Bordeaux to visit his writing room and his tower, and to gaze at the same blooming chestnut trees he did when he wrote that one must be “capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” But, how is that accomplished? Hampl answers, as Montaigne did: “By acquiescing to the leisure that is apparently so elusive, but is the key to ‘the life of the mind.’” It’s an unwieldy task, exploring the notions of daydreaming and imagination, and it’s difficult to cultivate that flight of the mind. Hampl is at her best when she wrestles with the age-old conflict between getting stuff done and staying still enough to think. As in several of her previous books, especially The Florist’s Daughter and A Romantic Education, her memories from childhood are especially good at bringing the narrative to life: daydreaming under the beechnut tree; the way playing the piano made her thoughts soar; the reverential state she entered while riding her bicycle through the streets of St. Paul. Sometimes, as Hampl makes her way through this elusive topic, she wanders off—literally and figuratively—on side journeys and tangents, many seemingly irrelevant to the subject at hand. There are lengthy descriptions of French inns,

Welsh tea shops, and long lunches with Czech friends. Is it wrong to be bugged by digressions in a work about the pleasures of wasting time? Woven through the book is a tantalizingly lovely, if scant, mini-memoir of her marriage to Terrence Williams, who died in 2016. Williams, 17 years Hampl’s senior, had long urged her to slow down, do less, and enjoy the moment. She ends her book musing about whether a certain dove is called morning or mourning, asking Williams dreamily, “Which is it darling? Can’t remember or never knew. But I have the time now, don’t I?”

And… the roundup Likely to be popular among younger readers is Sally Franson’s (M.F.A. ’13) first novel, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out (Dial/Random House), described in publicity materials as Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada in the age of Instagram. It follows the story of Casey Pendergast, a would-be writer turned ad hack who persuades respected authors to shill for various businesses, some of them downright nasty. It ends with Casey, having had an epiphany, leaving advertising behind for the world of podcasting, but by then you may not like this protagonist. Equally awash in pop culture but written in a more serious—almost reverential—tone is The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America (Bloomsbury). In this, on the 25th anniversary of its Broadway premiere, Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America earns its definitive history, written by director/writer Isaac Butler (M.F.A. ’13) and Dan Kois, a writer/editor for Slate. This

oral history is compiled from a daunting series of 225 interviews with directors, cast members, producers, and others involved with the play and its later HBO adaptation. Also extolling the magic of the arts is Mary Sharratt’s Ecstasy (Houghton Mifflin), a fictionalized reimagining of the life of Austrian composer Alma Schindler. Married to composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, Schindler struggled to accomplish her own work in a culture and time when women were not encouraged to do so. Given the many well-known artists who surrounded Schindler— she was friendly with iconic painter Gustav Klimt, among others—Sharratt’s (B.A. ’88) vivid novel makes for a great, gossipy, historical read. Closer to home, The Deep Dark Descending (Seventh Street Books) is a mystery set squarely in our own home state. Allen Eskens’s (B.A. ’89) fourth volume, following his acclaimed The Life We Bury, alternates between Minneapolis and “Up North.” Homicide detective Max Rupert, who has discovered that his wife’s death was no accident, is bent on finding the killer and exacting revenge. You’ll shiver for more reasons than one as you flip between a remote frozen lake and landmarks like Hennepin County Medical Center and Lake of the Isles. Still in Minnesota and still dark—but, sadly, nonfiction—is The Crusade for Forgotten Souls: Reforming Minnesota’s Mental Institutions, 1946–54 by Susan Bartlett Foote (University of Minnesota Press). Foote, a retired U professor of public health, tells the story of a group of Minnesota citizens who set about reforming the deplorable conditions in the state’s mental institutions.

Lynette Lamb (M.A. ’84) is a longtime Twin Cities editor and writer and a regular book reviewer for the Star Tribune.



The Green Giant


hen Jack Dangermond (M.Arch. ’68) left his hometown of Redlands, California, to begin graduate studies at the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture, he had no idea that 50 years later, he and his wife, Laura, would be integral to protecting an eight-mile stretch of pristine Pacific coast habitat. Yet, thanks to the largest gift the Nature Conservancy has ever received, of $165 million, that’s exactly what happened. The Virginia-based nonprofit was able to purchase, and permanently preserve, the roughly 38-square-mile piece of land west of Santa Barbara, California. With a jagged coastline giving way to centuries-old oak woodlands, the expanse is traveled by mountain lions, bobcats, and bears, and serves as habitat for endangered species 42 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Summer 2018

like the snowy plover, the red-legged frog, and the monarch butterfly. That the preserve was named after the typically understated and private Dangermonds speaks volumes. Cofounders of Redlands-based Esri, or the Environmental Systems Research Institute, a pioneering GIS mapping and spatial analysis software company, they hope the gift will spur others to action. “We do not think of ourselves as philanthropists,” says Jack Dangermond. “We run a billion-dollar business and we both work day and night. We are fortunate to have accumulated personal wealth and we spent it on this gift. Although awkward to go public by putting our names on the preserve, the idea was it would be something that other people of means would copy.” The strategy is working. “Jack and

Laura’s gift has been inspirational and hugely impactful in the world of conservation,” says Michael Bell, oceans programs director at the Nature Conservancy and director of the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. The gift from these committed conservationists has ignited a larger conversation, he says, about “how high-wealth donors can catalyze big meaningful advancements in the protection of our natural world. “This 25,000-acre property is truly the last coastal wilderness of southern California, a last-of-its-kind refuge for many marine mammals, shore birds, plants, and other animals,” adds Bell. “This is a globally significant piece of nature—a place that conservationists felt must be protected. But the truth was, we had no idea how we’d pull that off. That is until Jack and Laura called.”

The Nature Conservancy

Alumnus Jack Dangermond has helped preserve a remarkable piece of Pacific coastline. By Mason Riddle

I felt really good coming in but I just couldn’t get my shots off like the last fight. He never hurt me, but it is what it is.

Courtesy Esri

Caleb Truax (B.A. ’06) after losing his super middleweight world title in April to James DeGale, according to ESPN.

Dangermond a fellowship and teaching associate position. “Roger signed the letter, ‘Warm regards,’” recalls Dangermond, “which changed my life. I was ready to go to the University of California, Berkeley, where I had been accepted. I can’t tell you why, but this was different. Laura and I went to Minnesota.” Martin was Dangermond’s primary mentor. “We did all kinds of innovative and creative things, discussing a lot, not just reading books,” says Dangermond, who, among other projects, created an “open-space plan” for land along the Jack and Laura Dangermond hope their gift will spur others Mississippi River. “Roger to take action to help the environment. was an amazing intellect in landscape planning. He changed Dangermond credits the U my thinking of landscape architecture with laying the foundation for his as a profession—from landscaping conservation efforts and green space planning ideas. After earning to ‘landscape,’ meaning geography.” a B.S. in environmental science and Dangermond also singles out John landscape architecture at Cal Poly Borchert, a geographer and associate Pomona, he responded in writing dean at the U, who urged him toward to a poster advertising the U’s new “geographical thinking as a foundaUrban Design program in the School tion for planning and design. of Architecture. He soon received “Minnesota definitely influenced a handwritten letter from Roger me to have a rich and motivated Martin, a landscape architect and profession, to be passionate about head of the program, who offered geographical thinking as a platform

for my work, and it reinforced my interest in planning and conservation,” Dangermond says. “At Minnesota I combined the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design into one degree. This appealed to me.” He went on to study at Harvard University, earning a master’s in landscape architecture in 1969. But he remains connected to the U’s College of Design and its Minnesota Design Center—he’s working with center Director Tom Fisher on a worldwide effort called the Geodesign Collaborative. “We [at Esri] build tools that help people understand the world and make rational decisions about it,” Dangermond says. “GIS can help solve environmental issues. That is Esri’s role.” The company, which boasts a global client roster, donates software, training, and support to thousands of non-governmental organizations and nonprofits. Dangermond doesn’t want people to think, because of his gift, “that only wealthy people can help preserve the environment. That’s not the point. Everybody, regardless of wealth or capabilities, will have to do something. We need a revolution to occur where everyone is participating in conservation and green space planning all over the world, as fast as possible.” Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 43


Four women, including three alumnae, launch the Coven, a female-focused co-working space.

The powerhouse women of the Coven: Liz Giel, Erinn Farrell, Alex West Steinman, and Bethany Iverson.


Sarah White/

Pure Magic


t the Coven, the witch’s brew comes out of a coffee machine in the ultramodern kitchen that anchors this new co-working space for women and nonbinary people in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood. The multi-level office is awash in natural light, which pours in through enormous windows, and features exposed brick walls, a multitude of comfy sofas, fresh flowers, a secluded “parent and prayer” room, and art—including an electric-pink mural of powerful women such as Jane Fonda, Serena Williams, and Oprah. The space, which opened in March, is the brainchild of Alex West Steinman (B.A. ’11), Bethany Iverson (M.A. ’09), Liz Giel (B.A. ’08), and Erinn Farrell. All are veterans of the advertising world, hence the imagination-grabbing—some might even say “bewitching”—theme of the space. Steinman grew up in Maple Grove and earned a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota, where she also was an ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts. “I was really connected at the U,” she says. “I love people. I love helping them on their journey.” Messaging was something she always enjoyed. But, at the ad agency where she worked after graduation, she was told to develop a stronger voice. Then, she was told that her voice was too strong. Then she decided it was time to go. Of herself and her business partners, she says, “the more we were finding our voices, the less we felt that industry was for us.” So, the four created the Coven, a space by and for women, raising more than $300,000 on a crowdfunding site. For every five memberships they sell, they give one away to a person with low income or from a marginalized background. Members—there are hundreds already—gain access to all kinds of classes and seminars, along with a “member pantry” stocked by the Wedge co-op and a shower and dressing room. “Social enterprise is at our heart,” says Iverson, who grew up in Milwaukee and came to Minnesota to attend the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She went on to earn her master’s degree at the U in rhetoric and scientific and technical communication. “People join because they want to belong to a community. We have three to four events a week.” Those might include a creative workshop, an attorney talking about tax laws, a makers’ market, or a civil conversation on an issue of the day. It’s not just “six ways to negotiate your salary,” Iverson says, but “six ways to negotiate your salary when you are a person of color.” “We like being a container for the magic that happens when women are together,” says Steinman. “Whatever dreams you are trying to chase, we want to help you.” For more information, check out —Jennifer Vogel

The Connector

Scott Streble

As director of Minnesota’s Office of Indian Education, alumna Jane Harstad crisscrosses the state looking for solutions.


rowing up in a family of seven adopted children of different races and ethnicities, Jane Harstad was not only fluent in the lexicon of diversity but also the cultural traditions of her Polish American mother and her Norwegian American father. In other words, this kid from Northeast Minneapolis knew her way around lefse and meatballs. Today, sitting in her office at the Minnesota Department of Education, Harstad (M.S. ’95) is wearing a patterned beaded necklace and earrings—reference to the fact that she’s a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. As director of the state’s Office of Indian Education, Harstad serves as liaison between the state government, Minnesota’s 11 tribal nations, and the American Indian communities in the Twin Cities. Her goal is to improve outcomes for American Indian students.

Like most kids, Harstad began developing an interest in her heritage when she was a teenager. And she says that her time as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota was a continuation of that exploration—she spent 14 years finishing her undergraduate degree in elementary education, in part, she says, because her studies overlapped with having four children and it took her five tries to pass college algebra. “I had a good idea of who I was, but I wasn’t politically active before I got to the U,” says Harstad, who credits the American Indian Student Association and the relationships she developed through that organization with igniting her interest in advocacy. “My time there cemented for me that there was work to be done with the American Indian community and there were ways to do it and avenues to get you where you needed to go. I realized that if I saw a problem, I could do something about it.” (Her sister, Maryanna Harstad, B.S. ’86, founded the U’s American Indian Alumni network in March 2017.) After graduating from the U, Jane Harstad worked as a teacher in the American Indian Magnet School and Longfellow Humanities Magnet School, both in St. Paul. She loved teaching, but wanted to be able to do more for her American Indian students, who, she says, “are at the top of all the bad statistics and the bottom of all the good statistics.” So in 2004, she packed up her kids and moved to State College, Pennsylvania to study educational leadership and administration at Penn State. She finished her master’s in under a year. “It was the right time for me to want to learn,” she says, referring to the long path to her B.A. She went on to earn her Ph.D., also from Penn State. At the Department of Education, Harstad travels throughout Minnesota to support school districts and parent committees as they strive to meet the needs of their American Indian students. By hitting the road, she not only gets a firsthand view of what works but can easily share that knowledge. She also puts forward legislation to benefit American Indian students. It’s a demanding job, but one that’s never far from what drew Harstad to education in the first place. “I love seeing the kids the most,” she says of her visits to schools. And of her role in their education? “I facilitate conversations and get people to the right answer,” she says. “I’m not the answer. I just help get to the answer.” —Elizabeth Foy Larsen Summer 2018 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 45


Alumna Michelle Larson runs a tight ship at Minnesota’s Office of Medical Cannabis.


s a former member of Minnesota’s Air National Guard, Michelle Larson seems an unlikely candidate to lead the state’s first Office of Medical Cannabis. But dig a little deeper and it’s clear she is well equipped for what can be a complex, controversial job. For starters, she was already a 10-year veteran


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of the Minnesota Department of Health when she became cannabis director in 2014. “I have a background in government, not cannabis,” Larson says. Although she was warned that the job could be a political hot potato—medical cannabis is legal in Minnesota, but federally, it remains illegal—Larson was keen to take on the challenge. “I was thinking that if we are going to have a medical cannabis department here, I want to be the one to lead it,” she says. “Because it has to be run as best we can—with quality and efficiency— and my training has prepared me for that.”


In addition to her tenure with the Department of Health, Larson worked as an environmental health specialist and on an emergency pharmaceuticals program after the 2001 anthrax scare. She holds a Ph.D. (’16) in organizational leadership, a master’s (’07) in public affairs, and multiple public health certificates from the University of Minnesota. A native of Wisconsin, she also has a bachelor’s in health promotion from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Larson doesn’t rattle easily. Nor does she lack compassion. “My goal is that our office responds to every single person who contacts us,” she says. “These are very sick people with severe chronic conditions. They all deserve to be treated with respect.” Larson’s first task as cannabis director was to designate two manufacturers—Leafline Labs and Minnesota Medical Solutions—and eight distribution sites throughout the state. The medical marijuana they produce, in the form of pills, liquids, oils, or vapors, contains various amounts of THC, the chemical compound responsible for pot’s signature euphoric high. To receive a medical marijuana prescription, patients in Minnesota must have one of 11 qualifying conditions, which include cancer associated with severe pain, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, terminal illness, and PTSD. In July, autism spectrum disorder and obstructive sleep apnea will be added to the list. Each year, members of the public can petition to add new conditions. “We scrub through the literature when a new condition is proposed,” Larson says. The potential efficacy of cannabis on sleep apnea, for example, took her and her team by surprise. “We were shocked by the literature and the potential success in trials that showed cannabis may play a role in relaxing the nerves in the neck.” Getting relief from medical cannabis isn’t cheap. It’s not covered by health insurance and generally costs patients $200 to $1,500 per month. Larson’s office regularly surveys medical cannabis users to see how much relief they are receiving. “It’s been all over the board,” Larson says. “Some people tell us it’s no help at all and others say it has allowed them to work, eat, and exercise again. For some it replaces other meds, for some it’s used in addition to traditional meds. But all of them are grateful for the opportunity to try it.” —Lynette Lamb

Scott Streble

Don’t Call Her Pot Czar

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THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION ADVANCES CAREERS Alumni and students connect via the Maroon and Gold Network. In March, the Alumni Association launched the Maroon and Gold Network, an online career and networking platform where alumni can offer career-related advice to current students and fellow U graduates. Already, the network has drawn more than 1,500 participants. They include Randall Mendenhall—who earned a bachelor of science in business, with a major

in marketing, from the Carlson School in 2007—and Michael Messner, a student in the College of Education and Human Development majoring in business and marketing education. “One of the best parts of the network is that it’s focused on the University of Minnesota community,” says Mendenhall (pictured right). “This common background provides an excellent starting point for individuals looking to network and is especially helpful for current students, as they can confidently reach out to professionals who share the University experience.” Messner agrees. “I chose to use this network because I want-

ed to meet professionals who shared common experiences and worked through similar problems as students,” he says. “Michael reached out to me for the initial meeting, which is always a great sign for a student, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him,” says Mendenhall. “After our first informational

interview together, we met up again and conducted a resume review. He is also planning to attend several industry association meetings with me in the near future to continue to expand his network and develop his business acumen.” Messner says he has “made more than just a connection, as Randall has continued to meet and mentor me past our initial meeting. I have gained invaluable advice on how to set myself apart in a competitive field and how to continue developing my network. I will continue to lean on him for advice.” For more information, visit: UMNAlumni. org/maroonandgold

THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS GREAT TEACHING These faculty members are extra special. Each spring, the Alumni Association partners with the Senate Educational Policy Committee and the office of the Executive Vice President and Provost to honor faculty members who have gone above and beyond to bolster undergraduate education. Winners of the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education are inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and carry the designation throughout their careers at the U. They also share a $50,000 award from the Alumni Association, to be used to further their college research. This year’s honorees are, from left: David Fox, David Matthes, Jonathan Gewirtz, Sheryl Breen, Tracy Otten, Keith A. Mayes, Geoffrey G. Bell, and Mitra Emad.




career services

are desired, particularly from recent graduates

The Alumni Association recently conducted a survey that was completed by 8,800 alumni, asking what connects them to the U and what kinds of opportunities, services, and information are most meaningful to them. We’re grateful for the insights generously provided by the alumni who participated in the survey. We are also developing a new five-year strategic plan that will be voted on by our board of directors in June. Details of the plan will appear in the Fall issue of Minnesota Alumni.


More alumni

A survey of thousands of alumni will inform a new strategic plan.

UMAA members are

more likely to promote the U

regularly or all the time


of alumni respondents said they will continue to financially contribute to the U or plan to give in the future

Alumni feel the U did a good job of

preparing them for further graduate education and their current work status


UPDATE YOUR INFO STAY CONNECTED /MinnesotaAlumni UMAA @UMNAlumni /UMNAlumni /UMNAlumni /UMNAlumni #UMNAlumni #UMNProud


of U of M alumni said it was a good or great decision


have a good or excellent experience as alumni


Alumni would welcome

to the University as a whole, their major / degree AND their college

from their major, school or college and invitations to alumni events

opinion of the U is

Alumni are

shaped by the value / respect for degree and accomplishments of faculty and students

with the frequency of communications from the U

more information




Stay connected. THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION MAKES CONNECTIONS We’d like to offer a special thanks to our alumni network leaders. The University of Minnesota has over 60 alumni networks, led by amazing alumni who are dedicated to fostering community and creating beneficial professional and social networks. Learn more at: MINNESOTA NETWORKS West Central Lakes (Alexandria) Marty Schultz Amy Sunderland St. Cloud Hannah Mikels Kelsey Thaves Paul Thompson Glacial Ridge (Willmar) Leon Carlson Pauline Carlson Earl Knutson Sam Nelson Beth Wepplo Aaron Welch Carole Wendt Rachel Yates St. Croix Valley Andrew Haak Donabelle Hansen Judy Taplin Dakota County Michael Hudson Sandra Krebsbach

Bill Manwarren Cindy Manwarren Sherry Mattila Paul Portz Michelle Potter-Bacon Gary Reierson Nancy Schmidt Rochester Lynette Beck Ardell Brede Jim Clausen Jim Gilkinson Dave Groteluschen Dick Hedger Mike Quinn Milt Tostrud Dick Westerlund NATIONAL NETWORKS Puget Sound, Washington Nathan Deno Jayson Hicks Portland, Oregon Amanda Davies

Bay Area Vik Gowreesunker Tom Hammer Andy Kuehnel Nick Miller Brian Milovich Shelby Rhodes Lolly Schiffman Steve Sun Los Angeles Clint Schaff San Diego Scott Johnston Las Vegas Edith Johnson Phoenix Casey Conner Mickey Latz West Valley Chapter Larry Anderson Sandra Erickson Dorothy Everett Ness Charles Johnson Joyce Kloncz Michael Lynch George Mattson

Marilyn Mattson Jan Meyer Richard Olson Arnie Rehmann Joe Shaw Myrna Shaw Wesley Swanson Albuquerque, New Mexico Chu Jong Janice Strand Denver Tonya Fode Mark Fox Vanessa Shewmaker Austin/San Antonio Chris Hodge Houston Paul Eaton North Texas Neal Nelson Kansas City, Missouri Bobby Baumann Madison, Wisconsin Tom Kazmerzak

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Milwaukee Jason Mandl Chicago Sam Tan Detroit John Rohlf Nashville, Tennessee Alison Leathers Paula Middlebrooks South Florida Kirsten Charlson Sarasota, Florida Katherine Walstrom Southwest Florida Jean Albrightson Jon Albrightson Sharon Beckstrom Marcia Carthaus Carol Frommelt Roger Frommelt Lynn Groth Robert Groth Mary Hertogs Raleigh Kaminsky Randy Kaminsky Andrea Koch Travis Koch Rodger Lundblad Dick Miller Ruth Ann Miller Atlanta Veena Wulfekuhle Charlotte, North Carolina John Gutreuter Tom Lavaty Philadelphia Agam Sheth Washington, DC Susan Heltemes Greater New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Amanda Rodriguez Tim Zhang INTERNATIONAL NETWORKS Beijing Yufeng Guo Helen Lee Fran Liu Liangwei Ma Wanling Qu Shiao Sun Che Wang Snow Wang Yinan Wang Qixin Ye Guangzhou James Lam Woody Wu Hong Kong Nancy (Nam Hei) Chan Angela Li Simon Ka Wo Wong

Shanghai Arnold Guo Sylvester Tan Beihua (Jackie) Tang Guichao (Robbie) Tian Keng Zhou Shanghai Big 10 Tiffany Haojun Caoxu Shenzhen, China Branden Chen April Huang Shawn Wu Shaoxi Linda Wang Victor Zeng Lisa Zhu Singapore Anthony Adelmann Serene Zhao Taiwan Ming-Guo Her Japan Yasuo Fukuda Harumi Iwanami Mayumi Kaneko Ichiro Katsuki Akihiko Muramatsu Akira Nakamura Sumito Soichi Mayuko Takenami Mina Takeshita Kenichi Yamaguchi Korea Jaehoon Kim Yong Lin Moon Malaysia Hui Chi Fong Sofia Abdul Hamid Shasha Nurul Helmi Enthel Tan Yee Teng Tee Izzati Zainal Brazil Fabio Riedel Almeida Eliane Buzzetto Vitor Milagres France Alan Slavik U.K. Shenoa Simpson Kazakhstan Eldar Babayev Iceland Elín Broddadóttir Kristinn Garðarsson Haukur Haraldsson Jonina Kardal Tryggvi B. Thayer Melbourne, Australia Amanda Krause AFFINITY NETWORKS YMCA Alumni Network Jenny Collins Sara Letourneau Melissa Mason

Christopher Stoletenberg Band Alumni Network Adam Connolly Molly Kuchan Kelly Nellis Kirsten Rasmussen Raoul Shah Black Alumni Network Charlene Bogonko Ernest Comer Adora Land Emilia Ndely Damola Ogundipe Will Zehourou Greek Alumni Network Pat Born Peter Dahl Sandy Ducharme Brigid Ryan Ling Amy Royse Leslie Schroder Lynn Swon CORPORATE NETWORKS 3M Lisa France Peter Reinhardt Ethan Trepp Best Buy Jason Bruce Alan Cheng Natalie Fogal Lynn Swiggum Alissa Weideman Chris Woodbury Deloitte Brett Herges General Mills Abby Huebsch Stephanie Tomczyk Land O’Lakes Kersten Dolgner Hannah Rosenwinkel Medtronic Grant Ecker Matthew Chimento Ann Sheldon Target Heidi Hite Erin Merchant UnitedHealth Group Paruj Acharya Chris Borden Eric Brotten Hannah Hennen Emily Hennig Svetlana Sandberg Buffie Shannon Whitney Swanson U.S. Bank Chuck Fitzer Stephen Heinen Spencer Leuning

MEMBER ADVANTAGES Thank you for being a member! Don’t forget to make the most of your member advantages. Here are just a few: PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

u Take part in a quarterly roster of noncredit courses (save 10% on continuing education). u Invest in yourself with a course in the Carlson Executive Education program (save 10%). EXPLORE CAMPUS u Visit the Weisman Art Museum, Bell Museum, and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (discounted membership rates). u See the finest Northrop Dance, U of M Theatre Arts, and School of Music performances (member ticket rates). u Dine with a view from the Campus Club (local and non-Twin Cities membership discounts). u Tour the Raptor Center for a beak-to-nose educational experience (weekend program discounts, save 20% on birthday parties). MEMBERS-ONLY ACCESS u Minnesota Alumni Market, where all products are alumni made. If you are a graduate of the U of M, UMAA member, and owner of your business we would love to get you involved. u Advance notice and special pricing of exclusive events. Keep an eye on your inbox! u Online access to U of M Libraries (subset of student access). u Continue reading this award-winning magazine! Membership includes a subscription. SPECIAL SAVINGS SECTION u Chocolat Celéste offers 20% off online purchases with your UMAA member code. u 20% savings on U of M Bookstores apparel and gifts in store and online. u Academic pricing on select Apple® products at the U of M Bookstores. u 10% discount at Goldy’s Locker Room locations in the Twin Cities. u Show your member card for alumni hotel rates at Graduate Minneapolis on campus. For details, visit:

A SPECIAL WELCOME to our newest Life Members!*

As a Life Member, you join more than 19,000 loyal and enthusiastic alumni supporting the U’s important work. Dues are invested in a fund that provides a stable support for key Alumni Association initiatives. Kathy Ahlers Ronnie Ambriz Amanda Anderson Charles Anderson James Anderson Ross Anderson Helen Bailly Michael Bailly Stanley Baker Jennifer Baldwin Kaysie Banton Jillian Barleen Tanya Baxter Thomas Baxter James Benson Ross Bernstein Kathryn Biederwolf Adam Bistodeau Nan Booth Philip Boyle Gabrielle Brewer Deanna Briese Thomas Briese Frank Brixius Suzanne Brixius Dean Carlson Frank Carlson Paul Chase Eric Chen Guanghui Chen James Chenevert Matthew Chimento Paul Christianson Jeannine Churchill Richard Cloud Janice Cole Martin Cole Thomas Coplin Judy Corwin Renee Cristiani Timothy Curtis Brian Dahlin Katherine Dahlin Gayle Damrow Neil Damrow Robert Davidson Bonnie Davis Eric Ding Mikayla Doane John Eisinger Carolyn Eklin Duane Eklin Claudia Elsham William Elsham Charles Engh Paul Erickson Todd Erickson Carolyn Essig

Brittni Faddoul Caroline Fairbanks Seija Farber Gary Fischler George Foehringer Jeffrey Frommelt Joseph Fruland Norman Gabrick Lorraine Gartner Maria-Alexandra Georgopoulos Jack Gibson Niki Gjere Chad Greene Heidi Grimes Catherine Grinney Michele Haggar Sandra Hall Sarah Hall John Hanna Sydney Harrison Allan Hart Kathryn Hart Timothy Hart Thomas Heenan Suzanne Hofstrand Mark Horgen Trevor Huang Nathan Hunstad Stephen Hunter Linda Hurtgen Donald Jakes Pamela Jakes Kevin James Beverly Johnson Charlotte Johnson Rebecca Johnson Roland Johnson Warren Johnson Mary Josephson Warren Josephson Molly Jungbauer David Jungkunz Julie Jungkunz Mary Karlsson Margaret Keith Janet Kellogg Paul Kellogg Caroline Kelly Tonu Kiesel Peter Kluzak Bill Knopke Phillip Koski Jacelyn Krekelberg Timothy Krekelberg Kathleen Krueger John Kueck Elaine Kvasnik

Theodore Kvasnik Byron Laher Joyce Laher Joshua Larson Erick Laurila Florian Ledermann Albert Lee Thomas Libby Chung-En Lin James Lindell Dawn Llorca Kristi Lynn Julie Ma Kenneth Magnuson Herman Markowitz Natalie Markowitz Christian May Kenneth Maykow Matthew Mayo Bill McCarthy Martha McCusker Marianne McDonough Patricia McMonigal Craig Mellin Mark Mershon Fred Miller Dean Mitchell Kelly Mitchell Mary Moltzen Alice Moormann James Mortimer Brian Naslund Jennifer Naslund Carl Nelson Cynthia Nelson Thomas Nelson Jay Nesbit Staci Nesbit Harry Newby James Nord Jack Odell Brian Otte James Page Bruce Pankonin Bharat Parekh Karin Parekh Amy Parrish John Parrish Milton Patka Joanne Patterson Rebecca Pickler Christina Plaut David Plaut Mary Pohl Carol Rachac David Rachac James Radtke Marcia Raley

Kristen Rasmussen Annette Reichkitzer Patricia Ricci Elcyon Rocha Lima Maria Rocha Lima Nathan Romportl Freeman Rosenblum Shirley Rosenblum Luann RosenthalErickson Paul Rothweiler Shannon Rusk Judith Russell Thomas Russell Richard Sajous Anders Sand Randall Sanderson Courtney Schaefer Allison Schluckebier John Schmidt Tanya Schmitt David Schrot Stephen Shuman Ann Smith Jennifer Smith Michael Smith Russell Smith Linnea Sodergren Wayne Squires Dwayne Stenlund Tyler Stigen Joseph Szutz Travis Talvitie Greta Tank Esther Tatley Barbara Tenney Michael Tenney Alissa Thielman Bruce Toman Mark Trumm Inna Turchman C. Vaurio Patricia Vaurio Richard Vignes Mary Viking Kueck Martha Vogel Mary Warren William Weber Barbara Wiegand Pamela Willingham Holt Nanette Wittenberg Kenneth Wolfgram Elizabeth Wolner Martin Zanna Todd Zastrow *Reflects January 11-April 13, 2018

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Blooming in Ernie’s Garden


By Randall Wehler

Randall Wehler (B.A. ’70) is a lifelong Minnesota resident who enjoys writing essays, verses, and short stories. Illustration by Miguel Gallardo


rowing up, I helped my father with planting and harvesting on our farm so much that, by the time I went off to college, I felt like I didn’t want much to do with the botanical world. But attitudes can, and do, change. When my wife and I were in our late 20s, we moved into a house in an urban neighborhood in west central Minnesota. The neighbors seemed genuinely friendly, but we only got to know a handful of families well in those first few years. At the time, only about a third of the houses had backyard gardens. And I had not yet gotten around to resurrecting the once-thriving garden our predecessor planted, though it crossed my mind every now and then. One August, we heard that “Uncle” Ernie had entered a nursing home. An elderly widower who lived down the block, his backyard garden was probably four times larger than his small house. We liked Ernie. He cared for his plants diligently, and happily shared the vegetables he grew. We thought he would be back, but after a couple of weeks, his son delivered a letter to the block. Ernie wrote: “The doctors say I can’t go home. They’ve given me a year or two to live. I loved my garden and all the people it fed. My lawyer drew up a statement offering it to my neighbors on our block to use free as you see fit, indefinitely. Feed yourselves and may you be charitable. May you all grow together.”

Tears in my eyes, I called a block meeting. The turnout was much higher than expected, and I remember everyone walking around talking about Ernie as a caring man, someone who inspired gratitude and was loving and hardworking. We drew up plans for the next year so that all of the families on the block could carve out a small plot of their own in Ernie’s garden. The idea was exciting, and for me it was the nudge I needed to start planting again. Of the 14 houses on our block, all but two families participated in the garden venture. All of us said we didn’t want to let Ernie down, that we wanted to pay it forward after his years of generosity. We shared and traded produce. What we didn’t initially understand was that we were also planting a stronger community; even our small talk took on new meaning. We trusted each other more, and were grateful for each other. Eventually, nearby neighbors noticed our gardening efforts and the seeds of cooperation began sprouting beyond our immediate block. Ernie passed away about two and a half years after he offered us his gardens, which we are still tending. We think he would be proud of how his now-communal gardens reflect who he was as a person. He wasn’t just a master gardener, he was a master at bringing people together.

Together, we help Minnesota grow.

Brian Thalmann: Dad, conservationist, businessman, farmer and University of Minnesota graduate.

Agriculture is the foundation of our state. For more than 150 years, Minnesota corn farmers and the University of Minnesota have helped build and strengthen that foundation in our rural communities and beyond. See how at

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A LEG E N D I N E VE RY D E S I G N V I E W T H E F I L M AT C a m b r i a U S A . c o m


Minnesota Alumni, Summer 2018  

The New Bell Museum, plus alumni and University features, news and more.

Minnesota Alumni, Summer 2018  

The New Bell Museum, plus alumni and University features, news and more.