Friday, 13 February 2015

Welcome to genetic genealogy

Hello world!  My name is Shannon Combs-Bennett and I am excited to bring to you the world of genetic genealogy.  In this, my first post, I wanted to give you an idea of what my series will be about.  These posts will be every other month on the 12th.  Since that is not a lot I will make the most of my time with you.

First off, I started my adult life as a scientist.  While there are many reasons why I am not in the lab anymore, I still act, talk, and think like a scientist at times.  Particularly when it comes to genetic genealogy.  I feel strongly that to truly get the most out of the results you receive it is important that you at least understand the basics of genetics. Yes, just the basics, I promise. Many people have a strong feeling that they don’t need to know all the science stuff but let me tell you right now, you will thank me later for my definitions and explanations in the months to come.

Through this blog, I will bring you updates, tips, interesting reads, plus basic genetic explanations to make sure you are up to date on all you need to know in the world of genetic genealogy.  There is a lot out there in this field and it with an every other month post they will be chocked full of information.  Of course, that may mean you could have questions for me about all sorts of things.  I encourage you to leave me comments here on the blog or to email me directly and I will try and answer everyone’s questions in upcoming posts. 

Updates in the field:
Have you seen the genetic genealogy standards which were published 10 January 2015?  These are a great guide to anyone interested in getting more involved (professionally or personally) in this field.  Make sure you check them out!

Tip of the month:
My first tip to anyone who is interested in learning more about genetic genealogy (even if you think you are an old pro at it) to go read the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) website and wiki.  This is the go to website and organization for anyone who wants to keep up to date in the field.  You can join their mailing lists too which is very, very worth the time to read. 

Must Read:
Judy Russell, the legal genealogist, wrote a blog post on 8 February that really struck a chord with me.  One of the most common statements made to me is that they will never test because they don’t the government or the police to have access to their DNA. It just amazes me that this can be an issue.  Periodically you will see posts which talk about all the reasons why the DNA used for genealogy is of no use to the government or the insurance companies.

In fact, that is why in the US the GINA act was created.  If you have not heard of GINA I suggest you take the time to go and read about it.  In a nutshell, it states that any DNA given cannot be used against a person by insurance companies or employers.  You cannot be discriminated against with higher premiums or be fired because you have the predisposition to a genetic disease. 

However, as Judy points out in her post, if the police want your DNA they will get it.  They will collect it in any way they can and they will test it at their own facility.  Notice I said they will collect it?  Well that is because the testing for genealogy and the testing for crimes do not do the same thing.  It makes no sense for a police department to traipse down to a genetic genealogy testing company and get your samples. Maybe this article will give you some credibility with those family members you are trying to get to test.

I hope you enjoyed this first post and look forward to learning more about DNA and genealogy in the coming months. This is going to be a lot of fun!


  1. I look forward to learning from you Shannon and future posts. It's Great to have your perspective on what we are learning. Thanks.

  2. Welcome to the team, Shannon, I know I will learn a lot from your posts as I am DNA illiterate. It was great to meet you in person at Rootstech

  3. Welcome! And I look forward to reading your posts and digging into the links you provide. I'm still struggling to totally understand my DNA test results. I don't have a science/math mind.


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