Dr. Joanna Mountain to Speak at Upcoming Black Family History Day

AAGSNC members Bill Melson (left) and Lucy Scarbrough (right) assist Raushanah Bashir (center) in locating her relative on a census record. Photo credit: AAGSNC member Reginald James.

AAGSNC’s Outreach and Education Committee is eagerly awaiting the next installment of Black Family History Day.  It’s taking place on Saturday, February 11, 2012 from 1pm to 5pm at the Oakland Family History Center and is free and open to the public.  More than 35 volunteers lent their time and expertise during  last October’s event which lead to nearly 70 people starting their family history research.  We anticipate that the February 2012 event will have a higher attendance due to it being Black History Month.

In addition to workshops on how to fill out a pedigree chart/family tree chart and how to search for your ancestors online, attendees will have the ability to sit down, one-on-one, with a volunteer to help them locate their ancestors online.  The intent is that attendees will have enough skills to continue the search for their ancestors following the event and that they are knowledgeable about the resources that allow them to conduct searches for free. Following the one-on-one consultations, attendees have the ability to hear from Dr. Joanna Mountain, of 23andMe, who will speak about their current Roots Into the Future Project.

The Roots Into the Future Project is aimed at getting 10,000 African Americans to participate in genetic testing to better inform studies on diseases that may be tied to genetics and race.  As of January 19, more than 5,600 people have ordered complimentary kits to participate in the project.  More than 200 codes which make up the 5,400 kits were distributed by AAGSNC at the last Black Family History Day.  Like last October’s event, kits and/or codes to participate in the project will be distributed to attendees.

Dr. Joanna Mountain. Photo from Mountain Laboratory of Anthropological Genetics.

Joanna Mountain, PhD is a geneticist with a passion for ancestry genetics and genetic genealogy. She was born in England and traces her ancestry back to England, Ireland, and Scotland.  She received her PhD in Genetics from Stanford University and subsequently served on the faculty of the Anthropological Sciences department. Joanna has used genetics to study human prehistory in Africa, southern and eastern Asia, and Europe.  She currently represents 23andMe, a personal genomics company that provides genetic data and tools for exploring ancestry, genealogy, and health. She is interested in finding ways to extract as much genealogical information as possible from a person’s, or family’s, genetic data.  She is particularly excited about the future of genetic databases that allow distant relatives to find one another and to extend one another’s family trees.

For additional details and contact information, please visit the AAGSNC website.

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