Aficionados of family tree television programs and keepers of their own family tree updates might look into the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project.
For seven years, this major effort has been collecting DNA from ordinary volunteers to help map human migration. Those who waited at bookstore doors for Jean Auel’s latest trilogy entries or find large scale human history fascinating have been sharing who they are with the National Geographic project, genetically speaking, for the past seven years. The results of the collective analysis, though, span some 60,000 years.
According to Science Daily online, Spencer Wells, the project director, said over 500,000 participants from over 130 countries volunteered their information in the first phase. And now, a second phase is giving what he calls “citizen scientists” another opportunity to participate.
The first phase collected information that will inform the second phase. Those who volunteer their information for the project will receive information about their own history as well, even as far back as actual Neanderthals on their family tree!
The National Geographic Society reports that, to date, 35 scholarly papers have been based on the first phase of the project, published in journals such as PLOS, Human Genetics, and Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Further applications for data use are invited from researchers. For more information about this second phase, click here.
Linda Chalmer Zemel teaches in the Communication Department at SUNY Buffalo State College.
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