Wednesday, April 24, 2013

DNA Makes a Splash at RootsTech 2013!

[I started writing this post right after Rootstech, but never published it. I had thought it was too late, but since lots of blogs are still discussing RootsTech, I decided to go ahead and publish it.]

I already wrote about the DNA announcements made at RootsTech, but DNA was such a hit at this year's RootsTech conference that I think another post is due.

This was my first attendance at RootsTech and I was impressed. The conference had more DNA talks than ever and most were standing room only. I think the organizers may need to give us all bigger rooms next year!

Nathan Murphy of the SLC Family History Library spoke to a full room about the application of Y-DNA for genealogy (Update - I just found Nathan's talk online.). Diahan Southard from The Genetic Genealogy Consultant gave an entertaining presentation on my favorite subject - autosomal DNA.  Elise Friedman from Relative Roots and Family Tree DNA gave two talks to packed rooms - one which lasted substantially longer than scheduled due to the enthusiastic questioning from the audience. AncestryDNA hosted a sold-out luncheon program featuring DNA and their product director Kenny Freestone gave a separate presentation on the AncestryDNA product.

My first presentation was on the Geno 2.0 test. My crowd was highly engaged and full of questions.

RootsTech Geno 2.0 Presentation

YGG and the Geno 2.0 Presentation Audience

My second presentation was an "Ask the Experts" genetic genealogy panel. Participants were Bennett Greenspan, CEO of Family Tree DNA; Dr. Catherine Ball, VP of Genomics and Bioinformatices for AncestryDNA and Dr. Tim Janzen, 23andMe Ancestry Ambassador and Independent Researcher. I had prepared questions, but didn't need them since we had such an enthusiastic crowd. Before we got started with questions, I asked the room how many had tested before. I was shocked to see almost every hand in the room go up. Most had tested at all three of the major companies and with multiple types of tests. I was expecting to have a much less advanced crowd, but since panels are inherently flexible, it worked out beautifully. I only wish we had more time since there were many hands raised throughout the entire hour and I don't think everyone got a chance to ask their question.

"Ask the Experts" panel - photo courtesy Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf

The bottom line is that DNA for genealogy is here to stay. I think Dick Eastman expressed it best in the "Future of Genealogy" panel. When asked what three words best described the future of genealogy, he instead opted to respond with three letters "D.N.A."!


  1. Nice recap, CeCe! Based on my experience at the New England Regional Genealogical Conference last week, I'd say you're absolutely right about the future of DNA. After leading the NERGC Special Interest Group on DNA, I could not get more than a few minutes without a DNA question for the rest of the conference!

  2. I loved how many DNA lectures there were too! I'm just bummed I couldn't attend them all. :)

    1. Me too, Nathan, me too! I'm glad to be able to see yours online since it was full and many people had to miss it!