RootsTech 2019: Over 30 Classes on DNA!

DNA

RootsTech is always on the cutting edge of what’s new in genealogy. Look back at RootsTech 2018 and see the emphasis on DNA from Angie Bush’s presentation “You’ve Taken a DNA test, Now What?” to Diane Southard and Lisa Louise Cooke’s, “A DNA Match with No Tree? No Problem!”. DNA is a hot topic these days and RootsTech never fails to keep up by  providing a rich variety of classes and labs focused on using DNA in our research.

RootsTech 2019 offers over 30 classes/labs on DNA!

I took a look at the 2019 conference schedule found here (it’s a tentative schedule so subject to change) and used the search box on the left of the page to only look for sessions or labs on DNA. There are over 30 different classes or labs on some aspect of DNA! That’s an incredible resource for anyone looking to learn more about how to use their DNA results. There are classes tailored to all levels of difficulty from beginners to advanced.  There are classes on which DNA tests are available and which ones to use depending on your goals, classes on using third-party tools like GEDMatch and DNAPainter, classes and labs on techniques such as using your shared matches, visual phasing, chromosome mapping, and creating a DNA triangulation table. There are classes on analyzing Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA and classes dealing with endogamy. Whichever aspect of DNA you are interested in, there is likely a class or lab at RootsTech 2019 that will address that!

Why the emphasis on DNA?

On 28 October 2018, the Board for Certification of Genealogists came out with new standards regarding the use of DNA as another form of evidence in our research. More information can be found here. DNA results go hand in hand with other evidence in the forming of any conclusions we make. You may not be a professional genealogist or hold a credential but thorough researchers know that good, in-depth research means you look everywhere and you use everything that may help in providing an answer to your research question.  DNA evidence can be part of that reasonably exhaustive search.

RootsTech 2019 will be a great way to gain more education on exactly when and how to use DNA, in conjunction with documentary evidence, to answer that stubborn research question you may have.

*Don’t forget to visit the Expo Hall in between all your DNA classes to take advantage of the special prices on DNA kits. Every year that I’ve attended RootsTech (this will be my 5th year!) there have been great specials on DNA kits, I expect 2019 will be the same.

Hope to see you February 27 – March 2, 2019 at RootsTech!

 

 

 

Memories in Our Genes?

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Could our ancestors’ experiences leave a mark on our DNA?

What makes people different from each other?  What made our ancestors different from each other?  Why are some people happy and optimistic, able to weather any storm with great inner fortitude?  And what makes some people anxious and pessimistic, susceptible to depression?   No doubt our ancestors displayed these same variations in character.    Are those character or personality traits random or could it be that we carry in our genes some kind of ‘genetic memory’ of our ancestors’ experiences?

I’ve long been fascinated with the idea that we may not only have Grandma’s hands but that maybe we also have Grandma’s predisposition towards anxiety.   Could our ancestors’ experiences, whether traumatic or favorable, leave a mark on our DNA?  Scientists studying the field of what is now called ‘Behavioral Epigenetics’ think so.

Animal studies seem to support the idea that the environment can affect an individual’s genetics, which can in turn be passed on.  An Emory University School of Medicine study in 2013 showed that mice trained to fear the smell of cherry blossoms would, when bred, pass along that fear to their children and grandchildren.  Those mice descendants had never been exposed to the smell of cherry blossoms before but exhibited a negative reaction to it.  Not only was their behavior affected but the brain showed a physical change in the area that processes odor and a marker was found on the odor gene of the mouse DNA.

According to an article written for Discover Magazine by Dan Hurley. “Jews whose great-grandparents were chased from their Russian shtetls; Chinese whose grandparents lived through the ravages of the Cultural Revolution; young immigrants from Africa whose parents survived massacres; adults of every ethnicity who grew up with alcoholic or abusive parents — all carry with them more than just memories”.[1]

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Our ancestors’ experiences may affect us more than we realize. (Photo in public domain)

It’s highly unlikely that we will suddenly remember Great Granddad’s wedding day but the idea that perhaps our genomes carry some type of genetic marker from an ancestor’s experience doesn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibility to me.   The results of the research currently occurring may even help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.  Thanks then to whichever of my ancestors passed along a decidedly unreasonable fear of moths that I have had since I was a child!

[1] Hurley, Dan. “May 2013.” Discover Magazine. May 2013. Web. 01 Mar. 2017. <http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/13-grandmas-experiences-leave-epigenetic-mark-on-your-genes&gt;.