Topics to be covered:
The 2-day Virtual institute will take place on 8 & 9 Sep 2020.
Each day shall comprise of four 1-hour presentations followed by a Q&A session.
There will be a break of 30 minutes between presentations and 1 hour for lunch.
The daily schedule looks like this (times are EST which is 6 hours ahead of GMT):
Here are the individual talks and what each will cover.
Talk 1 – Goals; How DNA can help; the 5 main companies; Privacy & Data Protection
The first session looks at why people do genealogy in general and the types of different goals you may have for your own personal. We also assess how DNA can help achieve each of these goals and “shortcut” the research process. This goal-oriented approach helps us focus on what we really want, minimizes the chances of getting waylaid (!!), and sets us up nicely for the 2 days pf presentations and Q&A.
We’ll also look at the 5 main Direct-to-Consumer companies, what each of them offers, and the size of their databases. We’ll discuss the most cost-effective way of using the databases and how to transfer your data from Ancestry to the others.
We will also discuss how to “fish safely” by exploring ways and means to optimize your anonymity, privacy & data protection.
Talk 2 – Some Basic Science; 4 types of DNA; Understanding DNA transmission
We’ll look at the 4 types of DNA within each cell in your body and how it gets transmitted from parent to child. We’ll discuss Independent Assortment & Recombination (Crossing Over), and how this generates the DNA “segments” that we see in our list of matches. We will also explore how this forms the basis for the “genetic lottery” and how chance plays a crucial role in DNA inheritance and whether or not you turn up as “a match” to your cousins.
The mechanics of DNA transmission have some important consequences, both in terms of how much DNA we inherit from any given ancestor, but also how much DNA we share with our genetic cousins. You may be very surprised by what this means in practice! And it points to the benefits of testing your siblings as well as your more distant relatives.
We’ll take a brief look at the issue of “false positive” matches and how to spot them.
I’ll illustrate some of these points with the story of The King in the Car Park, and My Connection to Erasmus.
Talk 3 – Ethnicity Estimates & how they can help your genealogical research
Ancestry in particular is getting very good at Ethnicity Estimates. And as a result, these estimates now have an increasing significance for your genealogical research. We’ll look at the various estimates from the different companies and how these estimates have improved over the years. Some companies have better estimates for specific populations than others, and this may influence which company you decide to test with first.
We’ll talk a little about the People of the British Isles project and the Irish DNA Atlas project and what these tell us about the early peopling of Britain & Ireland.
Talk 4 – introduction to the Step-by-Step Approach to managing your matches
There are two main approaches to DNA testing – 1) proving that two people are related & 2) the Fishing Trip. Some people have a very specific question – is Person A related to Person B. For this a simple test of the two people will usually confirm or refute a relationship. I solved the Mystery of the Wedding Memento using this technique.
But for most people who do a DNA test for genealogical purposes, it is a simple Fishing Trip – you throw your hook in the genepool and you see what you catch. And what you catch is usually several thousand matches! It’s important to remember that the DNA simply says “you and you are related – now go and figure out how!” I describe a Step-by-Step Approach for addressing any specific match. This method helps you take a systematic approach to your matches and will cut down on the amount of time you can potentially waste chasing red herrings or being distracted by minutiae.
This session will focus on Steps 1 & 2. The Shared cM Project will be explored and we will learn how to apply the associated Shared cM Tool on DNAPainter. We will also explore ways of optimizing the information you share with your matches so that you save time and focus on the essentials. I’ll use an example of how to optimize your Irish ancestry chart and what sources to use to get all the necessary information to establish definite facts as well as generate hypotheses about potential relatives beyond your current Brick Wall.
We’ll also discuss how to manage matches who don’t reply to your messages!
Talk 5 – Step 3: Eliminating Non-Contenders
There are various ways you can eliminate non-contenders for the common ancestor with any given match and we will explore the most common ones, including identifying paternal vs maternal matches; homing in on a specific part of your tree; ethnicity/ nationality; a match on Y, mitochondrial or X DNA; phasing & chromosome mapping.
We’ll spend some time on these techniques as each can be very useful … when they work!
Talk 6 – Step 4: Triangulation & working with Clusters of Shared Matches
We’ll start by defining just exactly what Triangulation is and illustrate this with an example of Triangulating with known cousins. Doing so led me to an amazing breakthrough in my own family tree, as a result of which I nearly got invited to Harry & Meghan’s wedding!
We’ll then switch to Triangulating with unknown cousins i.e. the majority of your matches! Evert Jan Blom developed an amazing tool that allows you to automatically cluster your matches into clusters of Shared Matches. This has revolutionized the way that we organize our matches and the tool was so good it has been incorporated into the MyHeritage and Gedmatch websites. We’ll explore the practical applications of this and similar autocluster tools (the Collins-Leeds Method and the DNA2Tree app).
Talk 7 – Applying the Approach to Adoptees and similar cases
Working with adoption cases can be very gratifying and very challenging. We’ll use several worked examples to illustrate how the techniques described above can be put to use in cases where the parentage of a particular individual is unknown. This applies to adoptees, foundlings, & illegitimacies, but in addition it is now being used in Investigative Genetic Genealogy to identify Jane Doe’s, John, Doe’s and the victims and perpetrators of crimes. It may also be used in the future to help identify victims of natural disasters and mass grave situations.
I’ll take you through the Adoptee Worksheet template which is a handy tool I developed for working on adoption cases which allows you to gather all the key information you need in one place.
We’ll also explore the WATO tool (What Are The Odds) and how it can be particularly useful in adoption cases. And we’ll take a look at the DNAadotption and DNAgedcom websites and how the tools they offer can help in both adoptee research and ordinary genealogical research.
Talk 8 – Other tools and how they may help
This final session will describe some additional tools & techniques that have not been discussed previously, including:
We’ll also use this session to go back over any areas that are raised in the previous Q&A sessions or are requested by the class.
Watch the overview of Dr Gleeson's course: