“(Finally!) Understanding Autosomal DNA”
Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.
New autosomal DNA tests offered by companies like 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Family Tree DNA offer another important tool for the genealogist’s toolbox and provide genealogists with the ability to examine multiple family lines. Understanding and applying the results of autosomal DNA tests, however, can be extremely challenging. Finding shared ancestry with genetic matches is a daunting task, and using these match lists to break through brick walls or confirm research seems nearly impossible. Together we will work through the basics of autosomal DNA and examine the tools offered by the testing companies. We will also look at some powerful third-party tools, and learn about techniques for confirming research and analyzing genealogical mysteries using autosomal DNA. We will also look at the ethnicity estimates provided by the testing companies, and talk about some of the ethical dilemmas that can be faced by test-takers.
Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., is an intellectual property attorney by day and a genetic genealogist by night. In 2007 he started The Genetic Genealogist (www.thegeneticgenealogist.com), one of the earliest blogs on the topic. For the past eight years, it has been his mission to bridge the gap between traditional genealogy and genetic genealogy. He has been interviewed and quoted on personal genomics topics in Newsweek, New Scientist, Wired, and others. He authored I Have the Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What? in 2008, which is distributed by Family Tree DNA to all of their new customers. An update to the ebook is in the works.
Blaine frequently authors articles and gives presentations to educate others about the use of DNA to explore their ancestry. He is an instructor for genetic genealogy courses at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research, and Family Tree University. Blaine was also recently elected to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and is slated to graduate as a member of ProGen Study Group 21 in early 2015.
Course Schedule (all times U. S. Eastern)
- Lecture 1: “Introduction to Autosomal DNA”: Learn the fundamentals of autosomal DNA and compare company offerings.
- Lecture 2: “Using Third-Party Tools”: Free tools offer powerful additional analysis of autosomal DNA test results.
- Lecture 3: “Advanced Techniques and Tips”: Use autosomal DNA to confirm your research and break through brick walls.
- Lecture 4 “Autosomal DNA: Promise and Pitfalls”: Examine the limitations of ethnicity estimates, and discuss some of the ethical issues associated with autosomal DNA.