DNA – Where It's At for Me

July 27, 2016

Recently, I completed the Advanced Genetic Genealogy course last week at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

For anyone who has never attended such an institute, there are many that are very well-respected, including GRIP, which now is offered twice each summer as it becomes increasingly popular.


This was my second time at GRIP and my fourth course in DNA, all of which have been coordinated by CeCe Moore, who co-taught with Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Wayne Parker. Parker coordinated a beginner's course the same week called Practical Genetic Genealogy, and all three instructors gave lectures in each classroom.

I will admit that this was my second time taking Moore's advanced course. I had taken the beginner course at GRIP in July 2014 – the first genetic genealogy course ever offered at an institute. Six months later, I took the advanced course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, fondly referred to as SLIG.

My error there was taking both so close together and taking them before I had even worked with the results from my own DNA tests at The Big Three – 23andMe, AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA.

Since January 2015, I have become very familiar with how each of the websites work. I have solved the mystery of an adopted second-cousin's birth parents using the tools I learned and am beginning to master. I have been working on another pro-bono case for more than a year and a half. I have even used DNA to confirm that my father had had another daughter before he married my mother. (I will be meeting my half-niece soon and my "lost" cousin at the end of September.)

In an email, Moore wrote to remind me that I had already completed this course, worried that I might be wasting my time and money. Far from it. Re-taking the course now was the best thing I could have done for myself. Along with the science behind DNA, the field is evolving at a rapid rate, so plenty of the course included new or revised material. The rest offered much-needed review.

But also, I came away feeling much more confident about what I know, and I'm ready to refer to myself as a genetic-genealogy expert.

I have found my purpose – my direction – as a genealogist.

So, stay tuned to this blog as I begin to write regular posts about DNA and genealogy. Topics will range from DNA basics to advanced tools, news from the testing companies and highlights of genealogy TV shows – particularly "Finding Your Roots" and any other show that uses DNA as part of the research. I'll also talk about some of the work I've done.
Please feel free to contact me with questions. I will also devote my block to answering any questions sent to me.

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