University of Minnesota Alumni Association

Up Front

Up Front

Bam! It's Science!; Alum Designs Minnesota State Seal; The Weisman Art Museum Turns 30; New Cannabis Research Center

For more than 30 years, a group of high school physics teachers and U of M professors known as Physics Force have been demonstrating—in a highly entertaining way—the principles behind physics. This year’s show, held in January at Northrop Auditorium, drew hundreds of eager viewers, all of whom marveled and cheered at astonishing displays like this one.
Photo by Eric Miller

Alum Designs Minnesota State Seal


ROSS BRUGGINK(B.F.A. ’06), a graduate of the College of Design, had his proposal for Minnesota’s new state seal adopted by the State Emblems Redesign Commission in December.

The Legislature had mandated that the seal and state flag be redesigned after protests that the previous versions contained offensive elements. A competition was created to select new possibilities.

Bruggink was also one of six finalists selected for his entry for the Minnesota state flag redesign (a different final design was ultimately selected for the flag).

The commission received 399 seal submissions (and 2,128 flag submissions). The outer circle of the new seal contains 98 rectangular golden bars, representing the state’s 87 counties and the 11 federally recognized American Indian tribes in Minnesota. The inner part of the circle contains several symbols representing the state, including wild rice, the official state grain of Minnesota; the common loon (Gavia immer), the state bird; a white, four-pointed star representing the Star of the North, or, “L’étoile du Nord,” the state motto; and the phrase “Mni Sóta Makoce,” representing the roots of the name of the state, from the Dakota language term for “land of the sky-tinted water” or “land where the waters reflect the skies.”

The Weisman Art Museum celebrated its 30th anniversary this past November. Designed by noted architect Frank Gehry, the striking building was completed in November 1993. The museum is located on the east end of the Washington Avenue Bridge. You can learn more at

New Cannabis Research Center

THE UNIVERSITY of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH) launched a new Cannabis Research Center (CRC) in mid-November. The center will assess the impact of adult-use cannabis legalization and help inform future cannabis policies and practices across the state of Minnesota. 

courtesy of istock

Governor Tim Walz signed HF 100 into law in May, legalizing adult-use cannabis in the state. To create a research infrastructure and learn how cannabis is used and how it affects different Minnesota populations and communities, legislators included a $2.5 million annual appropriation in the bill from the cannabis sales tax to establish CRC.

- Lead the scientific community in cannabis research.
- Uphold antiracist principles by prioritizing questions related to equity and incorporating antiracist practices into collaborations, research questions and methods, interpretations, and communications.
- Maximize health benefits and minimize health problems related to cannabis by addressing timely questions now and in the future.
- Be a trusted source of information about cannabis research for individuals, communities

and organizations.

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that has physical and mental effects, but information on the impacts of adult-use cannabis legalization is limited, due largely to a lack of formal evaluations, robust data sets, and strong research programs. CRC plans to fill this gap by collaborating with organizations, agencies, and others on research about the health effects of cannabis, including its impact on underage users and how it interacts with related substances, such as opioids and alcohol. CRC will also explore how adult-use cannabis legalization affects health equity and public safety.

SPH Professor Traci Toomey, a public health policy expert who focuses on substance use control policies, will serve as the CRC’s inaugural director. 

“We’re extremely grateful to the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Walz for their leadership and support in creating Minnesota’s first-ever research center focused on cannabis here at the School of Public Health,” says Toomey. “I am excited for the opportunity to lead the CRC and, alongside my colleagues at SPH, conduct innovative research on the health effects of adult-use cannabis legalization on people and communities across the state, including prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, equity issues, education and decriminalization.”

The first priorities for CRC include identifying key staff and faculty members with related expertise, establishing an executive committee to help guide center strategy, and identifying partners across the state to help advance the CRC’s work.

If you liked this story, Minnesota Alumni magazine publishes four times a year highlighting U of M alumni and University activities. Early access to stories and a print subscription are benefits of being an Alumni Association member. Join here to receive a printed copy at home.

Read More