Presentations

Is your group interested in learning more about DNA testing and how it can be used in your genealogical research?  Or are you curious about the intersection of genetics and history?  I lecture all over the United States, Canada, and several other countries to groups of all sizes and experience levels, and I’d love to speak to your group. Below are some of the lectures I provide.  Each lecture is a stand-alone talk, but they can be mixed-and-matched for a full-day workshop.

If you’re interested, click HERE to contact me!

 

New Lectures (Available After May 2020)

What if? Learning About DNA Through Case Studies – Case studies are a powerful way to educate. In this lecture, attendees will see a series of case studies reflecting some of the most common and interesting DNA scenarios about which seminar attendees all over the country frequently ask. However, rather than simply being a disjointed collection of case studies, the presentation will provide themes such as the need to understand and utilize many different company tools and third-party tools, to think logically and creatively, and to avoid confirmation bias.

Real-Life Y-DNA – On this 20th anniversary of Y-DNA testing for genealogy, where have we been and where are we going? Most people are familiar with Y-DNA testing, but for many it is still an unknown. We will examine the types of Y-DNA testing including Y-STRs and Y-SNPs, and when you might use each. We will also review some of the major applications of Y-DNA testing including testing known lies and fishing for new DNA evidence. Additionally, we will discuss advanced Y-DNA tests such as Family Tree DNA’s Big Y-700 and when you might use these tests for your research.

The Latest Developments in Genetic Networks – Genetic networks are clusters of genetic matches. They are formed using either shared DNA segments or shared matching and are a powerful tool for identifying shared ancestry and breaking through brick walls. Since genetic networks are so powerful, the testing companies all provide tools for working with shared matches. In addition, many third-party tools have developed to create and/or explore these genetic networks. Together we will examine the latest developments in these powerful tools and how you can utilize them to further your genealogical research.

Identifying and Examining DNA Outliers – The amount of DNA shared by two people with a specific genealogical connection can vary considerably. The Shared cM Project attempts to identify these ranges by collecting information from thousands of example relationships. However, sometimes we find shared DNA amounts that don’t fit the expected relationship. Does this mean the expected relationship is incorrect, or that it is truly an outlier? Together we will examine the methodologies used to examine possible outlier situations, as well as review some real-life outlier examples.

Advanced Chromosome Mapping Using DNA Painter – Chromosome mapping can be a powerful tool for working with unknown matches, among other uses. In this lecture we will go beyond the basis of chromosome mapping. Using the DNA Painter tools, we will examine advanced methodologies such as inferred chromosome mapping (using DNA we DON’T share with a relative to map new segments!). We will also look at some of the non-traditional ways you can use chromosome mapping to learn about your ancestry and generate DNA evidence to test a hypothesis, such as mapping an ancestor using descendants, identifying pile-up regions in your DNA, and working with triangulation groups.

 

One Day Programs Seminars

I’d also like to provide suggestions for day-long seminars. Here are three different schedules ranging from introductory to advanced, but I can tailor a day-long program to the needs of your organization.

Introductory Program: The first possible schedule is for a group requiring a more basic/intermediate seminar (typically one day comprising four lectures):

  1. Using Y-DNA and mtDNA to Explore Your Ancestry – Y-DNA and mtDNA testing and have helped genealogists break through thousands of stubborn brick walls. Learn about the unique inheritance of Y-DNA and mtDNA in your family, how these tests can be used to explore your ancient ancestry, and how the results can identify your relatives both close and distant.
  2. 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.
  3. Formulating a DNA Testing Plan – DNA testing can be expensive, but DNA evidence is a component of exhaustive research when it is available. Identify some of the ways you can minimize costs while maximizing results by formulating a DNA testing plan early in your research.
  4. Using DNA Painter to Map and Analyze Your Autosomal DNA – DNAPainter is an easy-to-use third-party tool that enables you to assign segments of DNA shared with cousins to a map of your chromosomes. Together we’ll look at this powerful new tool, and how you can use it in your research.

 

Intermediate Program: The second possible schedule is for a group requiring an intermediate/advanced seminar (typically one day comprising four lectures):

  1. Using Y-DNA and mtDNA to Explore Your Ancestry – Y-DNA and mtDNA testing have helped genealogists break through thousands of stubborn brick walls. Learn about the unique inheritance of Y-DNA and mtDNA in your family, how these tests can be used to explore your ancient ancestry, and how the results can identify your relatives both close and distant.
  2. 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.
  3. Using DNA Painter to Map and Analyze Your Autosomal DNA – DNA Painter is an easy-to-use third-party tool that enables you to assign segments of DNA shared with cousins to a map of your chromosomes. Together we’ll look at this powerful new tool, and how you can use it in your research.
  4. 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.

 

Advanced Program: The second possible schedule is for a group requiring an intermediate/advanced seminar (typically one day comprising four lectures):

  1. 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.
  2. Using DNA Painter to Map and Analyze Your Autosomal DNA – DNA Painter is an easy-to-use third-party tool that enables you to assign segments of DNA shared with cousins to a map of your chromosomes. Together we’ll look at this powerful new tool, and how you can use it in your research.
  3. The Danger of Distant Matches – Those distant genetic matches are exciting, but they can be dangerous! Evidence shows that distant matches sharing a small amount of DNA are often false positives and fail to match either of our parents. Together will examine the problems that can arise when reviewing distant genetic matches at your testing company. We will also examine ways to evaluate these matches and use them in ways that avoid these potential issues.
  4. 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.

Let me design a seminar for your organization!

 

DNA Workshops

Workshops are a great way to get guided hands-on experience with your results, the company tools, and third-party applications! Workshops can be one hour, but are better suited for 2 to 3 hours to allow for exercises. Here are a few workshops I offer for your organization:

  1. Working with Testing Company Results – Do you understand what you’re looking at when you get your test results back? This workshop provides a guided tour through test results and interpretive tools at each of the major testing companies (23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, and Living DNA), including the most powerful tool the companies offer, Shared Matches and In Common With matching. Exercises will reinforce the class lessons, and let you explore your results in a classroom setting!
  2. DNA Painter Workshop – DNA Painter is an easy-to-use third-party tool that enables you to assign segments of DNA shared with cousins to a map of your chromosomes. Together we’ll look at this powerful new tool, and how you can use it in your research.
  3. Third-Party Tools Workshop – What else can you do with your DNA test results? During this workshop, we will look at third-party platforms such as GEDmatch and DNA Painter, and the many powerful things we can do with them, including mapping our DNA. Hands-on exercises offer an opportunity to explore tools that are sometimes too daunting to jump into alone!
  4. Visual Phasing Workshop – Visual Phasing is the process of breaking down your chromosomes into grandparent contributions using the DNA test results of 3 siblings (and sometimes even fewer than 3 siblings). Although Visual Phasing is challenging, many genealogists find the puzzle-like nature of the method to be extremely rewarding! After studying the basics of the methodology, we’ll launch into some hands-on examples and exercises!
  5. And more!

 

Available Presentations

 Below is a list of presentations that I currently offer, ranging from basic to advanced. The presentations are listed roughly in order of increasing complexity, although most lectures can be modified to suit any audience. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, feel free to ask!

Basic/Introductory Presentations:

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.

Using Y-DNA and mtDNA to Explore Your Ancestry – Y-DNA and mtDNA testing are the workhorses of genetic genealogy and have helped genealogists break through thousands of stubborn brick walls. Learn about the unique inheritance of Y-DNA and mtDNA in your family, how these tests can be used to explore your ancient ancestry, and how the results can identify your relatives both close and distant.

Using Autosomal DNA to Explore Your Ancestry – For years, genealogists have focused on Y-DNA and mtDNA, unable to access the wealth of information in the remainder of their DNA. At long last, new autosomal DNA tests reveal this hidden information. Genealogists can use autosomal DNA for ethnicity estimates, finding long-lost cousins, and examining specific genealogical problems.

Formulating a DNA Testing Plan – DNA testing can be expensive, but DNA evidence is a component of exhaustive research when it is available. Identify some of the ways you can minimize costs while maximizing results by formulating a DNA testing plan early in your research.

 Using DNA Painter to Map Your DNA – DNA Painter is an easy-to-use third-party tool that enables you to assign segments of DNA shared with cousins to a map of your chromosomes. Together we’ll look at this powerful new tool, and how you can use it in your research.

Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze 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 and the identification of genetic cousins. Together we’ll explore one of these tools, GEDmatch, and learn how to use some of the many powerful tools GEDmatch offers.

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 Presentations:

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.

Understanding Native American DNA – Does your family narrative contain a story of Native American ancestry? What should you expect when you review your ethnicity estimates? Together we will examine concepts such as recombination and segment loss, the limitations behind ethnicity estimates, and more as we examine this difficult topic.

Genetic Genealogy Year in Review – New tools, techniques, and tricks for genetic genealogists are always being created and developed. This lecture examines the very latest developments in the field and helps you understand how these new tools can be incorporated into your research.

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.

Using DNA Painter to Map Your DNA – DNA Painter is an easy-to-use third-party tool that enables you to assign segments of DNA shared with cousins to a map of your chromosomes. Together we’ll look at this powerful new tool, and how you can use it in your research.

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.

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.

The Future of Genetic Genealogy – Genetic genealogy is a powerful new tool for genealogists, and yet this tool is only 15 years old. What will genealogy look like in 5 years? In 20 years? Based on recent trends, as well as the needs and wants of genealogists, what educated guesses can we make about the future of genealogy?

 

Intermediate/Advanced Presentations:

The Danger of Distant Matches – Those distant genetic matches are exciting, but they can be dangerous! Evidence shows that distant matches sharing a small amount of DNA are often false positives and fail to match either of our parents. Together will examine the problems that can arise when reviewing distant genetic matches at your testing company. We will also examine ways to evaluate these matches and use them in ways that avoid these potential issues.

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.

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.

Expansive Targeted Testing Plan – DNA testing can be expensive, but DNA evidence is a component of exhaustive research when it is available. Identify some of the ways you can minimize costs while maximizing results by formulating a DNA testing plan early in your research. In this talk, we’ll examine concepts such as genetic independence of different family lines, and why you might chose one cousin over another to test!

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.

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!

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.

Genetic Genealogy for Professional Genealogists – Professional genealogists are increasingly offering genetic genealogy analysis and other services to clients. Together we’ll analyze some of the services that professional genealogists can offer, and some of the ethical issues of which you must be aware.

Tools for Organizing and Tracking Client Information – It can be a challenge to organize client information, or to build trees and charts for client work. In this lecture we will examine tools such as LastPass, Trello, and LucidChart to track client information and logins and to quickly build trees and charts to share with your client.

Tracking the Living – DNA evidence often requires identification of living individuals, either current test takers or possible test takers. In this lecture we will learn about the tools and tricks for identifying living people.

 

Non-DNA Presentations:

 Copyrights and Trademarks for the Genealogist – As genealogists, intellectual property is one of our greatest assets. We write client reports, articles, blog posts, and so much more. Learn about how copyright and trademark law protects your intellectual property. And just as importantly, discover what you should do to avoid infringing on the rights of others!

 

Older (Semi-Retired) Presentations:

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.

Genetic Genealogy Education – You’ve received your DNA test results, but you have no idea what they mean. Where do you go for more information? How do you educate yourself about genetic genealogy?

Begging for Spit – One of the biggest challenges facing genealogists is asking family members and non-genealogists to undergo DNA testing. Together we’ll examine novel and interactive ways to encourage participation by making these individuals stakeholders in DNA testing.

DNA and Your Genealogical Society – DNA is here to stay, and your members are asking about it. It is a unique opportunity to attract new members with much-needed educational programming, yet many genealogical societies are ignoring the valuable opportunity. What can your genealogical society do to encourage and support the membership’s interest in DNA? Is a large-scale DNA project feasible or useful? Let’s review what other genealogical societies are doing to educate members about DNA and explore ways you can engage your members.

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.

 

 

 

 

12 Responses

  1. Elaine Powell 27 September 2017 / 5:41 pm

    Hi Blaine,
    I am interested in finding out if you are available to be a speaker for an all-day conference in Orlando, Florida in the spring of 2018. Can you please send me info on your availability and fees?
    Thanks so much.
    Elaine Powell
    President, Central Florida Genealogical Society

  2. Nancy Hudson 28 November 2017 / 2:25 pm

    Hi Blaine,
    I spoke to you about being a speaker at our next Clan McAlister of America Gathering August 10-12, 2018 in Memphis, TN. I am writing to obtain confirmation that you are available that weekend and will be able to speak.

    Also, you mentioned that you would be available to do one-on-one consultations while at the gathering. From your website, it seems consultations are $25.00/15 minutes and I would like to know if that is the appropriate fee as I would like to let folks know ahead of time so they can plan for a consultation.

    Thanks so much,
    Nancy Hudson
    Treasurer, Clan McAlister of America
    Administrator, FTDNA McAlister Project

  3. Ruth Filbert 23 February 2018 / 1:20 pm

    I am interested in your programs for the 2019 Kansas Council Of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference. Would you contact me at KCGS, P O Box 3858, Topeka, Ks 66604-6858.

    • Blaine Bettinger 25 February 2018 / 10:35 am

      Thank you Ruth! I’ve sent you my contact information. I hope we can make the 2019 Kansas Council Of Genealogical Societies Annual Conference happen!

  4. Denis Hubert Dutrisac 24 February 2018 / 10:33 am

    Loved your presentation in Ottawa last summer. Bought your book… “Family Guide to Genetic…”, it is so well written and as much as the material is complexe, you make reading it fairly easy and understandable! Merci beaucoup! Will be looking for more books and texts for adoptees and how to find clear paths to unknown parents.

    Merci

    Denis H. Dutrisac

    • Pam Camacho 10 July 2018 / 8:54 pm

      Hi, Denis-

      We are DNA cousins! I’ve analyzed your tree many a times, trying to figure it out. I’ve got a mysterious Joseph Lavoie in my tree. I help adoptees. Heard GWorks is good for fishing for surname of unknown parents or grandparents via algorithms and the geeky way, I’m a bit old fashioned and go about it with just my eyes, but solved all the cases I’ve worked on thus far that involved DNA and many with just traditional research. DNA helped me solve Joseph’s wife and learn her ancestry, but darn Joseph is elusive!,

      • Pam Camacho 10 July 2018 / 9:14 pm

        Guess I need to get my eyes checked again as I accidently hit or put commas where other punctuation was needed. ; )

        Look forward to hearing from you via FamilyTreeDNA. Oh and her name and line was Guyon, Marguerite Guyin. I’ve analyzed so many trees from matches with Lavoie that my brain is buzzed. To be fair to myself, I have had a TBI and it doesn’t take much to overload it. Maybe a new set of eyes from your end can see things I’ve missed. My tree is on Ancestry under Keniston Family Tree, hoping you can access it as its public.

        Sincerely, Pam

  5. Julie Lenox-Sharifi 1 August 2018 / 1:01 pm

    Blaine,

    I am the program director for the Augusta Genealogical Society and am interested in your programs. Could you please send me your contact info and typical costs for a full day program?

    Julie Lenox-Sharifi

  6. Bob Jones 1 September 2018 / 5:24 pm

    Blain
    I have watched your Y-DNA webinar at Legacyfamilytree a number of times and I am still confused on the genetic distance & now I had my son tested and his results are so different from mine I am really confused.
    Do you answer questions like this or do I need to hire you? If so what are you charges? I really need to get this resolved.
    Thank you for your webinars and your book, Guide to Genetic Testing. My daughter took my copy when she went home. I will replace it.
    Bob Jones
    Louisebob4213@gmail.com

  7. Bonita Hillmer 12 April 2019 / 1:26 pm

    I have been working with Y-DNA study for several years, so understand it. My problem is autosomal discovery that father who raised my ex-husband was not his biological father. My sons Y-DNA (Sorenson) did not match the ‘raised father’s brother Y-DNA’ (ex-husband’s parents both deceased and have not told ex-husband what I found… nor have I told my daughter. My son’s autosomal DNA matched 167cm to a man who lived in the area. I feel confident that the biological connection is on his mother’s side … but I am at a loss here … as I don’t know how to read chromosomes to know WHERE the connection is. Is there a way to know exactly which line in the pedigree chart the chromosomes refer to. The guy’s mother had 3 uncles, who all had sons … so I am stuck. If you can send me information on costs to get help. Also, my local genealogy club has about 15 people who have spun off DNA group … they are all autosomal … so if you are in the area … ??

  8. Adrienne L Haupt 9 May 2019 / 12:01 pm

    Blaine West Valley Genealogical Society of Youngtown Az would like to invite you to be our seminar speaker on 20 Feb 2021. Please send a contract at your earliest opportunity. I believe Kim Harrison spoke with you about ths recently at OGS or NGS.

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