Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D.

Professional genealogist specialising in DNA evidence.

 

 

In 2007 he started The Genetic Genealogist (www.thegeneticgenealogist.com), one of the earliest blogs on the topic. Blaine is the author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, and co-author with Debbie Parker Wayne of the award-winning Genetic Genealogy in Practice, the world’s first genetic genealogy workbook. He also co-authored “Genetics for Genealogy” with Judy Russell in 2018’s Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards (ProGen PPS) (Elizabeth Shown Mills, Author and Editor).

 

Blaine is or has been an instructor for genetic genealogy courses at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. Blaine is a graduate of ProGen Study Group 21, a trustee for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and a board member for the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Blaine’s talks – Brisbane – Perth – Adelaide – Melbourne – Canberra

Introductory

Introduction to DNA –  In addition to learning about Y-DNA and mtDNA, we’ll learn about the newest tool available to genealogists, autosomal DNA.  Genealogists can use these tools together with traditional research to explore their ancient ancestry, find genetic relatives, and break through brick walls.

Intermediate

Using autosomal DNA for 18th and 19th century mysteries – Even though our 18th and 19th century ancestors have been dead for decades, their DNA still survives in their descendants. Learn how to use autosomal DNA to attack and potentially solve genealogical mysteries and brick walls for ancestors who were born or lived in the 1800’s, 1700’s, and beyond. Together we’ll also examine some of the ways that leaders in the field have attacked or solved their 18th and 19th century mysteries using autosomal DNA.

Introductory

Using GEDmatch and DNA Painter to analyse your autosomal DNA – Although DNA testing companies provide their own analysis of test results, there are third-party tools that allow test-takers to learn even more about their genomic heritage, including admixture calculators, the identification of genetic cousins, and segment mapping.  Together we’ll explore some of these tools and learn how to wring every dollar out of your test results!

Intermediate / Advanced

Limitations of cousin matching – Finding a distant match in a database is just the beginning of the inquiry. How reliable are distant matches and small segments? If the databases are full of false positives, is DNA evidence impossible to use? Together we will examine the limitations of cousin matching, but will also examine ways to avoid the pitfalls and obtain reliable evidence you can incorporate into your genealogical conclusions!

All levels

The Helen Marley story – A case study identifying the mother of my adopted great-grandmother, born Helen Marley Johnson. Although no single record identifies her mother, indirect evidence and DNA testing makes the case.

Blaine’s talks – Sydney

Introductory

Understanding and interpreting your ethnicity results – Ethncity results from the testing companies are estimates, not absolutes. Additionally, they only tell us about those few ancestors that actually passed down DNA to our genome. We will examine how ethnicity estimates are generated by the testing companies, the limitations of these estimates, and how our understanding of our ethnicity will continue to grow as new populations are added to the databases.

Intermediate

Using autosomal DNA for 18th and 19th century mysteries – Even though our 18th and 19th century ancestors have been dead for decades, their DNA still survives in their descendants. Learn how to use autosomal DNA to attack and potentially solve genealogical mysteries and brick walls for ancestors who were born or lived in the 1800’s, 1700’s, and beyond. Together we’ll also examine some of the ways that leaders in the field have attacked or solved their 18th and 19th century mysteries using autosomal DNA.

Intermediate / Advanced

Evaluating a genealogical conclusion including DNA – Someone tells you that they’ve proven their connection to a genealogical ancestor using DNA, but have they really proven it? Did they avoid the known pitfalls? Together we will discuss the most common pitfalls when using DNA evidence, and propose the minimum requirements for a genealogical proof comprising DNA.

Intermediate / Advanced

The latest advances in third-party tools for autosomal DNA – Third-party websites such as GEDmatch and DNAGEDcom are very popular with hundreds of thousands of genealogists. These tools can be used to mine for and learn about our close genetic matches. Both GEDmatch and DNAGEDcom are continually updating their existing tools and developing new ones. We’ll examine the latest tools and updates available from these excellent websites.

Intermediate

Are you doing everything to identify your DNA matches? – In this lecture, we will examine numerous ways you can use a match’s profile to identify who they might be. We will also examine ways to use the In Common With tool and the Shared Matches tool to estimate how that elusive match is related to you.

Intermediate

Ethical and legal considerations for DNA evidence – We will cover some of the legal, contractual, and ethical protections for DNA, including the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and The Genetic Genealogy Standards, among others. We will also examine ways to use this information to promote DNA testing by relatives.

Intermediate / Advanced

Shared matches and genetic networks – Shared matches and ICW are the most powerful tools that DNA testing companies provide. Together we will look at some of the ways to take advantage of these tools to work with our matches and break through brick walls.

Intermediate / Advanced

Advanced third-party tools – We will examine tools like Phasing, Matching Segment Search, Lazarus, and Triangulation tools offered by GEDmatch, DNAGedcom, and others. These tools are almost always excluded from typical third-party tool lectures.

Intermediate / Advanced

Visual phasing how-to – Visual phasing is one of the hottest new methods in genetic genealogy (using DNA results from three or more siblings). We’ll examine the method and get you started with your mapping project!

Intermediate

DNA and the aftermath of uncovered family secrets – Does a truth uncovered by DNA always trump secrecy, or can/should the truth have boundaries? If so, what are those boundaries? Together we’ll dissect the roles of secrecy and openness as we examine real-life examples of both the joy and the fallout from family secrets uncovered by DNA.

Intermediate / Advanced

The stories behind the segments – DNA evidence helps us break through brick walls and confirm decades of research, while introducing an entirely new generation of people to genealogy. It also allows us to create maps linking specific segments of DNA to our ancestors. But how many of us stop to consider the story behind that mapped segment of DNA on chromosome 13? Or the miles and years traveled by the piece of DNA on chromosome 22? Join me as I examine some of the amazing stories in my chromosome map!

Intermediate

Phasing and mapping your DNA – Phasing is the process of identifying what DNA you inherited from your mother, and what DNA you inherited from your father.  Learn how to phase your DNA results, and how you can use that phased DNA. We’ll also learn how to map segments of your DNA to specific ancestors using chromosome browsers and third-party tools. By testing relatives & using known matches you can map significant pieces of DNA to your genealogical family tree!

Intermediate / Advanced

Limitations of cousin matching – Finding a distant match in a database is just the beginning of the inquiry. How reliable are distant matches and small segments? If the databases are full of false positives, is DNA evidence impossible to use? Together we will examine the limitations of cousin matching, but will also examine ways to avoid the pitfalls and obtain reliable evidence you can incorporate into your genealogical conclusions!

All levels

The Helen Marley story – A case study identifying the mother of my adopted great-grandmother, born Helen Marley Johnson. Although no single record identifies her mother, indirect evidence and DNA testing makes the case.