Tracing Our Ancestors

Dr. Rick Kittles gave a very stimulating presentation, combining his personal story and experience with his research on genetic origins to describe not only the science behind this phenomena, but the personal identity issues some people face. As with any scientific development, it is always wise to consider the social, even moral implications that a technology could have, which here I thought was discussed passionately and also logically. I found it particularly fascinating that we are now able to use genetic markers to pinpoint an area of extremely specific location, particularly in Africa, which is so large. I also wondered about my own genetic background: it’s been a long debate in my family whether my paternal immigrant ancestors came from French or German descent (Alsace Lorraine is  on the border), and I have always wondered whether we were anything other than European after so many years of living in the United States. I was also intrigued by the predictive analysis of DNA; I have read about Angelina Jolie, who recently underwent a preventive double mastectomy, and others who are now getting them as well after being tested for predictive markers in their DNA to determine their likelihood of cancer in the future. Finally, I thought that it was really cool to see this genetic history displayed in the form of markers, if simply because it is incredible that we have this technology. Perhaps in the future we will define ourselves not only by what we culturally learn in the present, but also by what we have come from in the past, however far back that may be. 

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