Meet CeCe Moore: Genetic Genealogist – Tales from the Genome

A genetic genealogist uses DNA testing in conjunction with traditional genealogy research, in order to learn more about our roots.>>That’s really amazing. you know, we have an individual, in our course named Sterling, who is actually submitted his DNA sample to 23andMe, and gotten results back, and he has been able to find a, as close a match as a second cousin on the relative finder. Now, if you were chatting with him, and he was looking for a next step, what advice would you give to him, to sort of deal with trying to reach out to that person or possibly, you know, finding other connections that he could get more information from?>>There’s a couple different things he should do. First of all, he may want to join one of our adoption DNA mailing lists. We have extremely helpful search angels on those lists, who started out as traditional adoption search angels. So, they know how to work with the records, and if he has any non-identifying information, that can really help to use that in conjunction with his DNA results. So, we can help to teach him on those lists, what he needs to do next. And sometimes, you know, do more than just teach him, but hand hold, and if he gets real close to the answer, one of the search angels will jump in and help. And when I say real close, a second cousin is really close. So, he probably could find someone who’d be willing to help him work through these matches, and try to identify his birth parents.>>You actually run a very popular blog called your Genetic Genealogist. And I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about, how you, you started that blog, and what it means to you, and what people use it for today. I guess that means that I have to start at the beginning a little bit. Which is that, I was a genealogist, just hobbiest, and I’ve always loved genetics. It’s not my career in the past, I wasn’t trained in it, but I’ve always been drawn to it, and always really loved it. And so when autosomal DNA was introduced for genealogical purposes, by 23andME, I jumped in with both feet. I was so excited. it was actually Catherine Borges who is the director of ISOGG who first showed me what they were doing, and I just fell madly in love, and it completely took over my life. So it went from being a hobby, to a full-time volunteer position, and now a career. And part of that was starting my blog. I was answering a lot of questions all the time, of people who needed help, right away. And so I wanted a way to be able to answer those questions, and not have to keep repeating the same answers over and over. I was also doing some really fascinating research with my own family, and wanted to have a place to write that up. And, I was corresponding with 23andMe a lot, people who worked over there. Right away I established a good relationship with them. And it was actually one of them who recommended that I start a blog. It was Alex from 23andMe. He’s not there anymore, but he was one of the early employees there, and he said, you know, you should write a blog. And so, I’d never done anything like that, and I enjoyed it right off the bat. It was so fun to share my research and get input from everybody, and help people learn what to do with their results as well.>>Well you know, we’re really intrigued that you say, you know, genetics is a passion of yours, but it wasn’t actually what you studied. Can you tell us a bit more, about what you did before you got into this, and sort of what your segue was? Were you just super, super-nerd, spend all your free time in genetics, or was this just a, a really fun hobby for you? Genetics was always something that I was interested in, but I had not studied it. In fact, I was a music and theater major in college, and I have fallen in love with genetics just prior to that, in my senior year in high school when I was in AP Bio. We had a little genetics section as part of our course work, and I absolutely loved it. So, I should have taken the clue then, and I, I loved it enough that I did think about changing my major, and I even investigated it. But I already had a scholarship for music at USC, and they didn’t have a genetics undergraduate program, or I very well may have done it. But, I just stuck with my original plan. And, many years later, here I end up back again loving genetics, but this time it took over my life. So, I had started as a genealogist, in 2002 I think was when I really got involved, and I was looking at making a family tree for my niece’s wedding. And I, the type of person who jumps in with both feet, and I did that, and got kind of obsessed. And did geology for a few years, before I got really interested in the genetics part of it. we were just using Y DNA and MT DNA at the time, which I still thought was interesting, but I wasn’t quite as fascinated as I am with autosomal DNA, and that’s really become my focus. Although I use the other type in conjunction with it many times, especially in adoption searches. So, how did I get into it? So, I started writing a blog, and I got so many questions from people, and so much interest, that it’s literally started taking over my life. I had tons of comments on the blog, I had tons of private emails of people wanting help. Particularly, people who were searching for close family members, like adoptees. And people who had discovered close family members, and hadn’t expected it. there’s so many people out there that this is happening to, you would be surprised. And I sometimes wonder if there’s much more of that, in our society than we realize. But then I think it’s also possible, that the people who are drawn to testing are the people who maybe felt a little different, or felt like something was missing in their lives. So to go from entertainment, and then end up in a science career, in my forties, is definitely not something I would have ever imagined, but it is so fascinating. Everyday I wake up in the morning, and I immediately want to jump out of bed and run down to my computer, and see what new fascinating things have transpired overnight. And believe me, there’s always something. There’s such a huge demand for this. And maybe a year ago, some people had come to me and asked me, you know, if they wanted to have a career in genetic genealogy, was there was there a demand for it? And it’s changed. Really then, maybe a year ago, two years ago, there wasn’t much of a demand for it. And in the last year or two, it has literally exploded. So now, I absolutely would say that there is room for genetic genealogy consultants people who are willing to learn what we’re doing, and if they have a background in genealogy that would be great. And if they don’t that’s fine too, they’ll have to learn both sides of it. So they’ll have to learn the DNA part, and the genealogy part. But if they’re adventurous, and they’re looking for a new career, and they love detective work, because that’s exactly what this is, then I would strongly recommend that they look into this as a career.>>in, in, in the same vein, is there any other specific advice, or resources you would give to someone who’s particularly moved by this subject, and wants to investigate about the possibility of studying more? Are there some places they can go to sort of [COUGH] learn more about how to become a genetic genealogist that you recommend?>>Yes. Because the field is so fast moving, there are very few books that really address the subject. And everyday we have someone asking, you know, is there a genetic genealogy for dummies book. And there isn’t, not yet at least. And that’s because those of us who’ve tried to write them, find that they are so quickly outdated, that trying to get something published is very difficult that’s up to date. So, we always recommend that you read the blogs, you read my blog, Blaine’s blog, Roberta Estes blog, there’s some other really good ones out there. Kitty Cooper has recently started writing some fantastic resources. And most of all join our mailing list, because that’s where you really get help from the experts. And the people who’ve been doing this from the very beginning, are very generous with their time, and they’re on those lists. So join the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, it’s free. It’s ISOGG,, and then you’ll get an invitation to join the DNA newbie list, which I happen to administer and, you can go there and ask the most basic questions. and we have people who have been on the list for quite a while, so we also have more intermediate discussions, and sometimes even venture into more advanced. So just keep reading everything you can, that’s how I learned this.>>Great, CeCe it’s been a pleasure chatting with you. I hope you’ll join us again, maybe in the discussion forums for our course.>>That would be great I’d love to.

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