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Genographic Newsletter: September 2011

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September 2011
From the Field
Photo of Royal National Park near Sydney, Australia.
Photo by Mike Gal/National Geographic My Shot/National Geographic Stock
Recently Dr. John Mitchell, of Australia's regional center, returned to communities near Sydney and Brisbane, Australia to reconnect with Aboriginal populations and discuss their Genographic results. Elders from each village welcomed John's team.
Members of the Genographic Consortium gathered together in June at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain to prepare for the full Genographic Consortium meeting in Washington, D.C. this fall.
Dr. Tad Schurr, principal investigator of the North American regional center, returned from an expedition to Bermuda where he presented Genographic results to members of the St. David's Island community. Responding to eager participants curious about Bermuda's history, the North America team clarified details surrounding ancient Bermudan ancestry, particularly for those participants with indigenous genetic lineages.
Google Science Fair finalists extract DNA from strawberries.
Photo by Andrew Federman.
Google Science Fair finalists participate in the Genographic Project
National Geographic partnered with Google on their first science fair. The 15 finalists all swabbed to participate in the Genographic Project. During the finalist event at Google HQ in July, the finalists worked with Genographic team members to extract DNA from strawberries to learn how their DNA sample is processed in the Genographic laboratory. Learn more about the finalists and the winners.
Genographic in the News

Spencer Wells discusses the Genographic Project on BBC Radio 4 in the series "In Our Own Image: Evolving Humanity." Listen to the full program on their website.
A Genographic participant creates a science fair
project using his family's Genographic results.
Featured Migration Stories
Discovering the truth: A 16-year-old boy first became interested in the Genographic project when he visited National Geographic headquarters as a National Geographic Bee finalist. Learn how he then turned his interest in his own family's history into a project for his school's science fair.

I thought we were English!: Learn how the Nichols family found distant cousins who maintained the French version of their surname, Nicolle, while living on the Isle of Guernsey in the Channel Islands.

Submit your own migration story.

National Geographic President John Fahey (left) and Spencer Wells (middle) present Ginni Rometty (left) with the Chairman's Award.
Photo by Mark Thiessen
IBM receives Chairman's Award
During this year's National Geographic Explorers Symposium, National Geographic presented the Chairman's Award to IBM for significantly advancing knowledge of the world through its research partnership on the Genographic Project. Project director Spencer Wells helped present the award to Ginni Rometty, senior vice president and group executive with IBM. Scientists from IBM's Computational Biology Center, one of the world's foremost life sciences research facilities, use advanced analytical technologies and data sorting techniques to help interpret Genographic samples and to discover new patterns and connections within the data they contain. Learn more about IBM's involvement in the Genographic Project and the Chairman's Award.
Genographic Public Participation Kit.
Photo by Mark Thiessen
Did you know?
Only a tiny fraction of the total genome sets humans apart from other animals.
Heading back to school? Don't forget that the Genographic Project offers a discount on Public Participation Kits for educators. Apply for your discount.
The Nat Geo Live speaker series is featuring the Genographic Project in their 2011-2012 season. Check the schedules for Calgary, L.A., Washington, D.C. or Toronto.
Shifting winds will quickly swallow these recent tracks made over a sand dune in Chad's Saharan north.
Photo by David Evans
Journey of Man by Private Jet
Project Director, Spencer Wells, sat down with National Geographic Expeditions to discuss the upcoming Journey of Man trip, an expedition around the world by private jet with Spencer that traces the paths of human migration. Following an itinerary based on Spencer's book The Journey of Man,the adventure will travel to ten incredible destinations that tell the story of our shared human history from March 15 to April 7, 2012.

Read Spencer's interview about the trip and learn how to join the journey.
A lab technician checks on a batch of Genographic samples.
Photo by Lindsey Larson
Q: What happens to my sample once it arrives at the Genographic laboratory?

A: Your vials are checked in, and testing begins. The cells from your cheek swab are broken down in an enzyme solution so that the DNA can be isolated from the rest of the cells. The isolated DNA is then placed in a storage solution. But before we can look at your DNA sequences, we need to create more DNA so that it can be easily analyzed. This process is known as polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.

During PCR, special chemicals are added to your DNA that amplify the regions of your DNA that we are interested in analyzing. Once this is done, a computer program reads your DNA and assigns scores to your sample, placing it in a specific haplogroup. Two laboratory staff members then check the computer-assigned scores. When the scores are confirmed, your DNA results are sent to our central database and are displayed on your personal, anonymous results page on the Genographic Project website.

See more frequently asked questions.
Support the Project
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