Course: 2024-12 – Advanced DNA Evidence LaRoche

Coordinator: Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD


In this course, we will examine advanced applications of atDNA, mtDNA, X-DNA, and Y-DNA, including diving deep into the science of genetic genealogy. We’ll also review new third-party tools, methodologies, and company tools. We will also discuss the privacy and ethical issues related to DNA.

Other Instructors: Angie Bush, MS

Student Prerequisites:

Students must be very familiar with traditional genealogical principles and research, including researching family trees using both online and offline sources. Students MUST have test results from at least these three companies: AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage, and optionally at 23andMe.

This course will not cover the basis of DNA evidence, and thus, students must have a solid foundation to maximize their success. Accordingly, students must have completed one of the following and actively applied what they learned in order to be prepared for this newly designed Advanced DNA Evidence course:

  • Completion of a prior DNA course from GRIP, IGHR, or SLIG at least three months prior;
  • Completion of a multiple-week online DNA-focused course with graded homework (does not include BU or ProGen); and/or
  • A solid understanding of all types of DNA evidence together with ALL of the following: (i) worked with DNA test results from multiple testing companies; (ii) read The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy; and (iii) successfully completed all the exercises in Genetic Genealogy in Practice (Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne).

If you are unsure whether your prior experience or education is sufficient, please get in touch with the course coordinator.


RECOMMENDED: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy; and Genetic Genealogy in Practice (Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne).

All times are listed in Eastern Time.
• Refer to your student’s Dropbox for the full schedule, including breaks. (Provided one week prior to the start of the course)
• Live sessions may be subject to schedule adjustments by your course coordinator.

Day Session Title Description Instructor

8:30 – 9:00 AM


Introduction Take this opportunity to connect with your peers and gain insights into what exciting adventures await you this week.
Mon 1

9:00 – 10:15 AM

Using Y-DNA Evidence in Genealogical Research Y-DNA evidence is incredibly powerful when used properly. Students will learn targeted testing techniques, how to interpret Y-DNA results, using (and reasons for using!) the Big Y700 test, and more. After this class, students will have a solid foundation for using Y-DNA evidence in their genealogical research. Bettinger

10:45 – 12:00 PM

Using mtDNA and X-DNA Evidence in Genealogical Research mtDNA can be incredibly powerful when used properly. Students will learn targeted testing techniques, how to interpret mtDNA results, using mtDNA haplotype frequency, and more. We will also review the unique inheritance pattern of X-DNA while learning about the limitations and benefits of X-DNA evidence. Bettinger

1:30 – 2:45 PM

The Science of Autosomal DNA – Part 1 In this session, we will examine some advanced topics in genetics, including recombination, ROHs, FIRs, HIRs, IBD/IBS/IBC, and more, and how these topics affect the results we see. Understanding these advanced topics will help students further understand their autosomal DNA test results and will give students a framework for evaluating new tools, results, and concepts in autosomal DNA. Bettinger

3:15 – 4:30 PM

Using Shared Matching Shared matching is the most powerful tool that the testing companies provide. It allows us to view connections between matches to provide clues about how we are related to these matches, and to generate clues about genealogical mysteries. In this session we’ll examine the benefits and limitations of shared matching, and how to use shared matching in your research. We will also examine using the colored dots at AncestryDNA (and possibly the new labeling system at MyHeritage!) to cluster matches into groups. Bettinger
Tue 5

9:00 – 10:15 AM

The Science of Autosomal DNA – Part 2 In this session, we will examine some advanced topics in genetics, including imputation, age of segments, so-called “sticky segments,” number of inherited segments vs. relationship, “pile-up” regions, and more. We will also examine the science behind AncestryDNA’s Genetic Communities (and groups at 23andMe and MyHeritage) and how they differ from traditional ethnicity analyses. Bettinger

10:45 AM- 12:00 PM

The Science of Autosomal DNA Including Triangulation vs. Shared Matching – Part 3 In this session, we will examine advanced topics in genetic genealogy, including using shared cM to explore relationships, a brief introduction to WATO (covered in a full lecture later in the course!), obtaining DNA from artifacts (including rootless hair), and more! We will also examine concepts of segment triangulation and how it differs from shared matching, including how segment data might be overrated. Bettinger

1:30 – 2:45 PM

AncestryDNA’s TIMBER and ThruLines, and MyHeritage’s Theories of Family Relativity The TIMBER algorithm and ThruLines tool at AncestryDNA are widely misunderstood. This lecture will examine these tools and how they affect our research. We will also examine the MyHeritage Theories of Family Relativity tool and how to evaluate and leverage this tool. Bush

3:15 – 4:30 PM

Building Research Trees, Using LucidChart, And Finding Living People Building research trees is essential to successful genetic genealogy, and we will examine some tips and techniques. We will also examine the tree charting tool LucidChart and learn about techniques for finding living people and the most recent generation(s). Bush
Wed 9

9 – 10:15 AM

Latest Developments in Company Sites/Tools, Third-Party Tools, and Methodologies Testing companies continually revise their user interfaces and provide new interpretations and tools. In this session, students will learn about the latest changes and additions to the DNA testing company websites and tool offerings, including the new Family Trees from 23andMe. Students will also learn about the latest developments in third-party tools and research methodologies (utilizing DNA). Bush

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Are You Doing Everything? In this lecture, we will examine numerous ways you can use a match’s profile to identify who they might be and how they might be related to you. Bettinger

1:30 – 2:45 PM

Evaluating a Genealogical Conclusion Including DNA Evidence Incorporating DNA evidence with documentary evidence is not a simple matter. It requires careful and methodical analysis of various autosomal DNA limitations and pitfalls, many of which we will discuss in this session. For example, we will examine essential considerations for EVERY genealogical conclusion using DNA, including confirmation bias, Tree Completeness, shared DNA amounts, and more. Bettinger

3:15 – 4:30 PM

Strategies for Endogamy Endogamy is the practice of reproduction within a group due to sociological or environmental factors such as religion, geographic isolation, and others. We will examine how endogamy (and related phenomena such as the Founder Effect and consanguinity) impacts the results of genetic genealogy testing. We will also analyze some methods for analyzing test results in an endogamous background. Bettinger/Bush
Thu 13

9:00 – 10:15 AM

Writing for Clients and Laypeople In this session, students will learn about the dos and don’ts of writing DNA-based genealogy reports for clients and non-genealogists from an expert in the field! Bush

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

What Are the Odds (WATO) Students will learn about WATO, a free tool hosted at that can be used to test hypothetical relationships using DNA-based probabilities. It is useful for examining recent genealogical questions. Bush

1:30 – 2:45 PM

Advanced Chromosome Mapping Techniques In this session, we’ll examine some advanced chromosome mapping techniques to help you assign more segments of DNA to your growing chromosome map! We will also examine how to incorporate ethnicity estimates from 23andMe and FTDNA into your chromosome map. Bettinger

3:15 – 4:30 PM

Introduction to Visual Phasing Visual Phasing is one of the most advanced methodologies in the field of DNA evidence. In this session, we will introduce the concepts behind visual phasing and review a few examples of the methodology. Although you won’t be an expert in visual phasing by the end, you’ll have a basic understanding of the process and be able to explore visual phasing on your own! Bettinger
Fri 17

9:00 – 10:15 AM

Investigative Genetic Genealogy: A Neutral Review (and Other Ethical Issues in Genetic Genealogy In this session, we will examine some cultural attitudes to DNA testing, privacy, and ethical issues, including the use of genetic genealogy databases for law enforcement investigations. Bettinger

10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

Reviewing the DNA Case Study In this session, we will review the week-long case study, including some of the techniques used to solve the mystery. Bettinger