ABOUT ME

I am an independent professional genetic genealogist currently working as the genetic genealogy consultant on Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Genealogy Roadshow.

I have close working relationships with all of the major genetic genealogy testing companies. I love to help others discover more about their family heritage through DNA testing. My area of expertise lies in assisting others in understanding Autosomal DNA testing products such as 23andMe's Relative Finder, FTDNA's Family Finder and Ancestry.com's AncestryDNA. I participated in the beta testing for all three products and am considered an innovator in the use of autosomal DNA for genealogy, frequently consulted by DNA testing companies, genealogists, adoptees and the press.

My volunteer work includes: Lead Ancestry Ambassador for 23andMe, Moderator for the ISOGG DNA Newbie List, International Society of Genetic Genealogy's Regional Coordinator for Southern California, Volunteer Administrator for the Jefferson/Hemings, Proctor, Travis, Unknown Fathers and the Global Adoptee Genealogy Projects at Family Tree DNA and Administrator for the ISOGG Wikipedia. I have appeared on 20/20, CBS This Morning and The Doctors and been quoted on the subject of DNA in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, People Magazine, The Root, Discover Magazine’s Gene Expression, Science Blog’s Genetic Future, Genomes Unzipped, Genomics Law Report, Fox Health, CNN's Paging Dr. Gupta, BioArray News (multiple) and Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (multiple). My blog even made a “Recommended Reading” List for DNA in Newsweek. I also frequently present on the subject of genetic genealogy. 

I am considered a leader in creating educational resources for the genetic genealogy community. This summer in Pittsburgh with Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker-Wayne, I will be teaching the first week-long, intensive genetic genealogy course at a genealogical institute. With Tim Janzen, I have recently founded the Institute for Genetic Genealogy and we are organizing the first completely independent genetic genealogy conference, to be held in Washington D.C. this summer. 

If you are a beginner, please see the Resources page for links to basic articles on genetic genealogy. I am always happy to hear from my readers, however due to the large amount of inquiries I receive, it has become impossible for me to respond to every email personally, so please feel free to remind me about your question if you don't hear back from me and I will do my best to respond. If you need your question answered in a timely manner, please join the ISOGG DNA Newbie Yahoo Group or, if your question concerns adoption and DNA, the DNAAdoption Yahoo Group (links found on the Resources page) and ask there.

Thank you for reading!

4 comments:

  1. I'm interested in your observations about the uniqueness of Finnish DNA. Both my grandparents were from Finland, Henry (Heikki Jarvinen) Freeman from Rautalampi and Maria Syrjala from Somero (typical Finnish accents omitted). I have only one uncle remaining from whom I could get a DNA test but doubt he would cooperate. I have done mtDNA full genealogical scan resulting in haplogroup U6a3a1 but the only close matches don't reply to email so may have passed away. This brings out the importance of those doing DNA testing to pass along access to the information and having someone who can reply to matches. I've also done the FTDNA FF test and have many matches but most of those don't have well developed traditional genealogies. Also, my own research has not yet revealed great grandparents in Finland. American cousins: Syrjala & Syrjanen in Fitchburg MA and Jarvinen in Flint MI don't seem inclined to share info.

    Cheers, Ray Whidden, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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  2. I enjoyed your panel session this morning at RootsTech. I only wish we'd had more time.

    The question I would have asked is: suppose I have a lock of hair, blood-stained fabric, or other material that might yield DNA from some long-dead known relative. How close are we to having reasonably-priced DNA tests that can take as input something other than a cheek swap or blood sample from a living person? Clearly this is already possible at least on a small scale in the lab, since for years we have been reading about the DNA of Neanderthals and of Otzi the Ice Man in the Alps.

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  3. I enjoyed your presentation on DNA for adoptees yesterday. I was contacted by a woman a few months ago claiming to share great grand parents. Having actually known my great grandparents- and having done the family tree- I thought this was impossible. We compared genomes at 23 and me and sure enough we did share great grandparents. We were listed as 2nd cousins. She also matched my siblings, cousins and paternal aunt. Her father had been adopted in 1945 in Denver with the only information being that his biological mother had "health issues." We predicted that he must have been the son of my grandmother's only sister. We tested him and found his mitochondrial to be H2a2- exactly my aunts. We used location as well and found her in the Denver directory in 1945.
    We are now onto his father and will order a Y-DNA 111 test from Family Tree DNA. Hopefully we will at least get a surname.
    Thanks.

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  4. I enjoyed your presentation on DNA for adoptees yesterday at Rootstech. I received an email from a woman a few months ago who claimed to share great grandparents. I thought this impossible having known them and having done their tree. We compared genomes on 23 and me and we were a 2nd cousin match. She also matched my siblings, cousins and paternal aunt. Her father had been adopted in Denver in 1945. The only information he had on his mother was that she "had health issues." We looked at our family information and discovered that my grandmother's sister had lived there in 1945. We figured out that her dad should have H2a2 mitochondrial DNA if he were to be my grandmother's sister's son. Sure enough he came back H2a2. We are now onto the father and will order the Family Tree DNA Y-111 test to try to get a surname. Just wanted to let you know that everything you mentioned yesterday- DNA, a family tree, triangulation and location all contributed to solving part of this mystery.

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