GRIP Advanced DNA Class

It is hard for me to find anywhere I would rather spend my summer than my house on Cape Cod. Yet, last week I did. I just returned from a DNA intensive week at GRIP[1] in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to meeting over 180 genealogists and making many new friendships, I had the opportunity to participate in the Advanced Genetic Genealogy class lead by CeCe Moore (yes from the PBS series Finding Your Roots) and Blaine Bettinger (author of The Genetic Genealogist blog).

My brain is still smoking from studying all the latest techniques and information from this quickly evolving field. A few of the more advanced topics we dealt with included:

  • Visual Phasing of Chromosomes
  • Ancestry Data Mining
  • Pedigree and segment triangulation
  • Unknown Parentage and DNA
  • Mirror Trees
  • Ethnicity and Admixture

With over 9 million atDNA tests processed as of March 2017[2], Genetic Genealogy has achieved a critical mass of data that readily allows for cousin matching and discovery of unknown parentage. The ability to actually map segments of our chromosomes to our ancestors is here and will only become easier as more people test. It is so cool to be able to find genetic cousins that share segments of DNA mapped to the same ancestors!

The class spent many hours learning the techniques CeCe uses to discover unknown parentage. She shared cases from her work on Finding Your Roots and her Facebook group DNA Detectives. One of the most interesting aspects of locating unknown parentage is how much easier it has become with the growth in atDNA testing.

I am back to my summer home now, unpacked and ready to apply all the knowledge I just acquired. I can provide assistance in understanding your matches at any of the major atDNA testing sites, use of third party tools and finding unknown ancestors and/or parents. Just contact me! Oh, and yes, before I left I got a picture of myself with my rock star CeCe Moore!

[1] Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh

[2] Leah Larkin, “AncestryDNA Hits Four Million!,” theDNAgeek, 22 April 2017, ( : accessed 22 July 2017), graph.