#DNADownUnder, an interview with BlaineT Bettinger.

Blaine was a speaker at THE Genealogy Show, in Birmingham and he was gracious to answer several questions, that I emailed him, after the show. These are his answers. 

1) When did you first use DNA and why?
I ordered my first DNA test (an autosomal test, believe it or not) in 2003. I was a genealogist since middle school (about 1989) and was then in a Ph.D. program using genetics, so the advertisement I saw online for a DNA test combined the two things I loved the most.

2) Why do you think DNA is important for family research?
DNA is no more special or important than any other type of evidence. It is simply another type of evidence we consider when doing thorough genealogical research. Just as we would consult a new book published about our family, we should consult new DNA evidence.

3) What have been the biggest changes, in DNA testing, since it first came into the family research.
Almost everything! Probably the biggest changes since my first test in 2003 is the introduction of autosomal DNA testing, and the huge size of the testing databases.

4) What changes would you like to see the testing companies make and why?
I would love to see the testing companies branching into more countries, and spending more advertising dollars in those countries. I think it’s something we’re already seeing!

5) Without breaching privacy, what has been the best result, you have had.
Every result is the best one! But probably my favorite is an autosomal match that led me to the identify of my adopted great-grandmother.

6) What do you see as the main pitfalls people make?
One of the main pitfalls is jumping to a conclusion based one DNA match (or a couple of DNA matches). A strong genealogical conclusion can take hundreds or thousands of hours, and using DNA requires a combination of both the DNA results and extensive documentary records.

7) What does Blaine do to relax after a conference or busy week?
I have two children, and although not always relaxing, spending time with them is a great way to unwind after a conference or a busy week.

8) Where do you see DNA testing being in 5 years and 10 years’ time?
DNA has had an enormous impact on genealogical research. I predict that this will continue as the databases grow and as new tools are developed. Incorporating DNA evidence into our genealogical research will get easier as millions more people test and as we gain a deeper understanding of how to use DNA evidence. It is a very bright future.

Blaine T. Bettinger Ph.D., J.D.
Professional Genealogist, The Genetic Genealogist, LLC


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