Sunday, June 5, 2016

OGS Conference, Sunday

OGS Day 2 started out with a presentation!  I talked about how much our ancestors in Eastern Europe may have migrated and how that can impact where and how you do research.  I introduced many different kinds of documents to show how you can trace people and how important it is to know where your ancestors lived and how they migrated.  My fourth cousin once removed (on my Rutner branch) Hana who lives in Toronto came, and we met for the first time.
My First OGS Presentation (photo by Louis Kessler)

Then off to hear Israel Pickholtz speak.  I've heard a version of this talk before, but he is always an entertaining and inspirational speaker.  He shows the power of what can be done with genetic genealogy, even when dealing with endogamy.
Israel Pickholtz's Second OGS Presentation

Then came my second talk, which talked about how to do research on family members from modern-day Ukraine.  Lots of people were there who had been at my first talk, so I took that as a good sign!
My second OGS presentation (photo by Louis Kessler)

Then I did two one-on-one "Ask the Expert" consults for people and helped them figure out next steps in their research.

And then onto a panel discussing the future of genetic genealogy.  Panel members included CeCe Moore, Judy Russell, Maurice Gleeson and David Pike; Elizabeth Kaegi moderated.
Panel on DNA at OGS

Each panelist had a chance to talk about what they see as upcoming trends in DNA.

Maurice Gleeson has been concentrating on Y more than autosomal recently.  He is hoping that the cost of various tests will come down to encourage more individuals to test Big-Y and Y111--or better, testing 500 y STR markers, as that will help to estimate most common recent ancestors.  He hopes that phasing comes in to be able to better track where mutations happened and be able to build out surname trees.

Judy Russell is interested in legal challenges and constraints that we may face.  There is the potential for losing DNA as a research tool; we need to manage our own ethical constraints to manage a perceived misuse of DNA affecting this.  Before we ask a family member to test, we need to guide individuals to guide the risks inherent in the test.  DNA doesn't lie; paperwork can.  In addition, the genealogical community is all about sharing.  However, in doing so we need to keep in mind our ethical obligation to recognize our genetic cousins as living, private people.  It must be their information about what sort of information is shared beyond genetic matches.

David Pike looks towards the size of samples in DNA databases growing enormously.  As a consequence, there will be less of a wait for people to get "good" matches.  More instant gratification will allow acceleration of breaking down brick walls.  He sees costs dropping over time as technology improves.  His concern is a collision of competing sequences.  If we get to full genome sequences, we have genealogy intersecting with medical information.

CeCe Moore discussed how as more and better tests are developed, databases of tests will need to be re-run from scratch.  New tests will give us more insight into how our ancestors looked and will give us more insight into ourselves.  As you assign more segments to specific ancestors, it will mean more and more.  We will be able to reconstruct our ancestors' genomes and be able to understand the traits they carried.

Maurice Gleeson then mentioned how Ancestry closed the Sorensen database after the police used it in one instance.  This type of knee-search reaction to avoid lawsuits is something we hope to avoid. This is a wake-up call to make sure we are self-monitoring as best possible.

CeCe and David both talked about the idea of building a huge tree and connecting DNA.  Judy Russell stressed the importance of building correct trees so that it can help connect DNA results with proper information.  But this could help build the genetic tree of the world.

And then I was off to the Closing Ceremony, where CeCe Moore was the keynote where she discussed lessons from the cutting edge of genetic genealogy.
CeCe Moore at the OGS Closing Ceremony
She talked about tracing her brother-in-law's family back to Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson, a path which was only instigated by his DNA results which surprisingly to him contained African DNA.  She mentioned genetic memory--before her brother-in-law knew this, he loved Monticello, and there were many other coincidences.  She questioned whether biological bonds transcend generations and distance.  She gave other examples as well for adoptees who, when they find their biological family, find incredible coincidences between the individual and their families.

She also talked about some of her success stories and showed how people have been reconnected with DNA--sometimes with people they never would have thought existed.  She talked about how it helps people to learn something about themselves.

This was a wonderful conference, and I'm so thankful to JGS Toronto and OGS for inviting me!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Feel free to follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Would love to have been at the conference! Are you able to put here any of your lectures? I was speaking with my cousin who is doing my mother's side of the tree and he was saying the same as you do ..people didn't migrate anywhere it was the name and borders of the places that changed. Well in our families case anyway. I'm hoping you will be able to help me find my mother's side as they came from the same place as my dad the Carpathian Ruthenia area.

    1. Sorry, but they didn't record the talks.

      And people often did migrate, but it was also the case that people did move.

      We can work to get your mom's town's records and go from there if you'd like. Email me.

  2. As a senior living in CA with most relatives and their history in the East, I too would love to see a podcast or video of the event. Surely someone there is computer literate enough to set up a laptop and turn on SKYPE or another software program to record the event, then post on YouTube! I'm disabled and have difficulty getting around locally let alone going on a plane to NJ. Any recording either video or audio would really embrace the fellow genealogists who cannot travel. Please reconsider not recording these events. Thank you for listening.

    1. It's up to the conference, not me. Remember that they rely on conference fees to make the conference happen.

      I can tell you that my presentation at IAJGS this summer will be recorded and available through their LIVE! program.