Let's continue our interview with genetic genealogist Arun Konanur of Discovering New Ancestors (see part 1 here). In part 2, he shares the story of a "brick wall," his favorite websites for understanding DNA results, and a genealogy patent application!
Ian, EasyGenie: Describe a memorable brick wall breakthrough for a client.
Arun, Discovering New Ancestors: An axiom of mine is that “We’re all in this together” — and by that I mean that often as not, solving my client’s mystery may involve first building up and working through the ancestral lines of others.
A good example of this involved working up one of my own mystery matches: Prior to determining that my maternal grandmother’s father wasn’t whom we’d understood him to be, I first had to perform a similar task for another [family] member.
Her grandfather’s uncertain parentage was something long rumored in family lore, and had been something she’d researched intermittently for the past 30 years. Making this discovery, and clarifying her ancestral lines, while not the focus of my investigation, meant the world to her but was really just a by-product of my inquiries.
Similarly, identifying another match shared by us mutually revealed that the individual in question was descended from my contact’s Uncle, so now this gentleman also had definitive information about his heretofore-unknown father.
Discoveries such as this, although incidental to my central inquiry, support my final conclusion and are often instrumental in arriving at any conclusion at all. To put things another way: either everything works, or none of it works.
EasyGenie: You founded Discovering New Ancestors a few years ago, but you've developed it quite a lot, not only with educational materials on the website but even a genealogy patent application!
In addition to applying my research methods to the challenges faced by others, I’ve continued researching my own family lines, devising my own tools and methods for “data-mining” the DNA matches shared In Common With known family members so as to better explore less well documented family lines.
Discovering New Ancestors filed its first patent application in this area in September of 2021, and further development of “next generation” processes is ongoing. As more and more people add their DNA to the global dataset, the possibilities for Computational Genealogy — a sub-domain of a field called Bioinformatics — are exciting indeed!
UPDATE: As of March 2023, the genealogy patent has been published on the USPTO database.
EasyGenie: What's your favorite website to use that not many people know about?
Arun: For DNA-related work, I can’t say enough good things about DNApainter.com — they’re well-known within the Genetic Genealogy community, and they offer a plethora of free tools, with paid offerings as well. Not for the faint of heart, their Shared cM and What Are The Odds tools are essential.
My own bioinformatic research involves harvesting and correlating millions of DNA matches, and I swear by DNAGEDCOM’s subscription client for downloading thousands of member matches, but not everyone needs those sorts of tools!
With regards to traditional genealogical research, I find myself returning to OldMapsOnline.org as the site allows you to choose a location, and specify a time frame throughout which one can select and overlay a variety of maps that contain your chosen locality.
Many thanks to Arun for participating in the interview! To learn more about the DNA research services offered by Discovering New Ancestors, visit the Discovering New Ancestors website and follow the company on Facebook.