Tech Roots » Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots Ancestry.com Tech Roots Blogs Wed, 19 Nov 2014 23:53:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.2 Ancestry Opens Its Doors for NewCo.SFhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-opens-its-doors-for-newco-sf/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-opens-its-doors-for-newco-sf/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 13:47:53 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=2763 Ancestry was selected as a 2014 NewCo.SF host company. Come join us at our San Francisco office on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 4:30pm PT to hear from Eric Shoup, EVP of Product at Ancestry.com. He will provide an inside look at the unique and meaningful business of family history and the tech, science, and product… Read more

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Ancestry was selected as a 2014 NewCo.SF host company. Come join us at our San Francisco office on Thursday, Sept. 11 at 4:30pm PT to hear from Eric Shoup, EVP of Product at Ancestry.com. He will provide an inside look at the unique and meaningful business of family history and the tech, science, and product experience that enables millions of people to make powerful discoveries about their ancestors and in turn, themselves.

 

How do I sign up?

Register for a NewCo.SF general admission pass for free here.  Then sign up for the session at Ancestry’s office: http://sched.co/1pbfVb3

Are there perks to coming aside from listening to the speaker?

Yes. Enjoy free appetizers, beer, and wine. We’ll also be giving away ten AncestryDNA kits, each paired with an Ancestry.com membership.

newco

 

Session details

Date & time: Thursday, September 11 from 4:30pm – 6:00pm

Location:

153 Townsend St., Ste. 800
San Francisco, CA 94107
Ph. 415-795-6000

*Please note that parking may be limited due to a Giants’ game.

Speaker: Eric Shoup has over fifteen years of experience in high-tech development, product management, professional services and general business management, where he combines exceptional technical understanding and analytical ability with outstanding product marketing. He has served as Ancestry.com’s Executive Vice President of Product since February 2012. He joined the Company in August 2008 as Vice President of Product. Prior to joining the family history giant, Eric was at eBay for more than five years, where he focused on growing the eBay Stores product and ProStores business unit and also assembled and led eBay’s global mobile product team. Prior to eBay, Eric was a Director of Product Management at Commerce One, a leading provider of B2B e-commerce solutions and worked at US Interactive, designing and managing consumer e-commerce and marketing Web sites for established companies such as Lexus and Wellcome Supermarkets (Hong Kong). Eric holds a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

We look forward to welcoming you!

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DNA and the Masses: The Science and Technology Behind Discovering Who You Really Arehttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/dna-and-the-masses-the-science-and-technology-behind-discovering-who-you-really-are/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/dna-and-the-masses-the-science-and-technology-behind-discovering-who-you-really-are/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:02:58 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=2075 Originally published on Wired Innovation Insights, 3-12-14. There is a growing interest among mainstream consumers to learn more about who they are and where they came from. The good news is that DNA tests are no longer reserved for large medical research teams or plot lines in CSI. Now, the popularity of direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA tests… Read more

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Originally published on Wired Innovation Insights, 3-12-14.

There is a growing interest among mainstream consumers to learn more about who they are and where they came from. The good news is that DNA tests are no longer reserved for large medical research teams or plot lines in CSI. Now, the popularity of direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA tests is making self-discovery a reality, and is leading individuals to learn more about their genetic ethnicity and family history. My personal journey has led to discoveries about my family history outside of the United States. On a census questionnaire I am White or maybe Hispanic. My genetics, however, show I am Southern European, Middle Eastern, Native American, Northern African, and West African. And who knew that DNA would connect me with several cousins that have family living just 20 miles of where my mom was born in central Cuba?

Major strides have been made in recent years to better understand and more efficiently analyze DNA. Where are we today?

  • Easier: DNA testing required a blood draw. Now, you can spit in a tube in the comfort (and privacy) of your own home.
  • Cheaper: In 2000, it took about 15 years and $3 billion to sequence the genome of one person. Today you could get your genome sequenced for a few thousand dollars. To put that into context, if a tank of gas could get you from New York to Boston in 2000, and fuel efficiency had improved at the same pace as DNA sequencing, today you could travel to Mars (the planet) and back on the same tank of gas.
  • Faster: Companies of all kinds are quickly innovating to keep up with demand and to make DNA testing more readily available and affordable. Illumina recently announced a whole-genome sequencing machine that could sequence 20,000 entire genomes per year.
  • More information: We can now tell you things about your ethnicity, find distant cousins, tell you whether a drug is likely to benefit or harm you, and tell your risk of diseases like breast and colon cancer.

It isn’t all roses. There is a joke among the genetic community that you can get your DNA sequenced for $1,000, but it will cost $1,000,000 to interpret it. DNA is complex. Each of us contains six billion nucleotides that are arranged like letters in a book that tell a unique story. And while scientists have deciphered the alphabet that makes up the billions of letters of our genome, we know woefully little about its vocabulary, grammar and syntax. The problem is that if you want to learn how to read, you need books, lots of them, and up until recently we had very few books to learn from.

To illustrate how complex it can be, let’s look at how to determine a person’s genetic ethnic background. Say you are given three books written in English, Chinese and Arabic. Even if you don’t speak the languages you can use the letters in those books to determine what percent of a fourth book is written in each of the respective languages, since those three languages are so distinct. But that is like determining whether someone is African, White or Asian, which doesn’t require a genetic test. What if the three books were written in English, French and German that use a similar alphabet? That is like telling someone that is White that they are a mix of various ethnic groups. That is a much harder problem and one that usually requires a genetic test.

So how do we distinguish the different ethnicities using DNA? Since we don’t have a genetic dictionary that tells us what we are looking for, scientists use the genetic signatures of people who have a long history in a specific region, religion, language, or otherwise practiced a single culture as a dictionary. Once enough of those genetic sequences are gathered, teams of geneticists and statisticians use the dictionary to define what part of your genome came from similar regions.

How does big data play into all of this science?

DNA has been “big data” before the term became popularized. The real question should not be about how much data you have, but what you do with the data. Big data allows companies like Ancestry.com to compare 700,000 DNA letters for a single individual against the 700,000 DNA letters of several hundred thousand other test takers to find genetic cousins. That’s a lot of computational power, and the problem grows exponentially. To make all of this possible, big data and statistical analytics tools, such as Hadoop and HBase, are used to reduce the time associated with processing DNA results.

Given how far we have come in such a short time, what should we expect for the future of consumer DNA? The technology is moving so fast that it is almost worthless to predict. But what is clear is that we won’t come out of this genetic revolution the same. We are going to live better, healthier lives, and we are going to learn things about our species and ourselves we never dreamed of. And importantly, putting genetic ethnicity and family connection in the hands of individuals is going to tear down our notion of race and show how we are all family – literally. Maybe we’ll even treat each other a little better.

Ken Chahine is Senior Vice President and General Manager for Ancestry.com DNA.

 

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Ancestry.com to Lead Core Conversation at SXSWhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-com-to-lead-core-conversation-at-sxsw/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-com-to-lead-core-conversation-at-sxsw/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 21:11:15 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=2046 Headed to SXSW Interactive? Join EVP of Product, Eric Shoup and Senior Director of Product at Tableau, Francois Ajenstat, for an engaging Core Conversation about how using big data can tell personalized stories. Big Data is a game changer for storytelling. Too often, the data we pull is cold, factual and dehumanized. Technologies can now… Read more

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Headed to SXSW Interactive? Join EVP of Product, Eric Shoup and Senior Director of Product at Tableau, Francois Ajenstat, for an engaging Core Conversation about how using big data can tell personalized stories.

Big Data is a game changer for storytelling. Too often, the data we pull is cold, factual and dehumanized. Technologies can now analyze and turn individual data points into prose and fascinating personal stories. We can bring the humanity back into the bite-sized stories we tell with data by seeking out, understanding and incorporating the inherent narratives within it. Come join the conversation to discuss how we can bring depth and meaning to massive amounts of data.

Session Details:

Session – How Using Big Data Can Tell Personalized Stories

When – Saturday, March 8 from 12:30pm -1:30pm CT

Location – Sheraton Austin, Capitol View South, 701 E 11th St

Session Hashtag– Join the conversation on Twitter #datastory.

 

Storytelling 2

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Video Q&A with Lead Engineer at Ancestry.comhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/video-qa-with-lead-engineer-at-ancestry-com/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/video-qa-with-lead-engineer-at-ancestry-com/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 01:14:53 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=1974 Jeremy Pollack, a lead engineer at Ancestry.com, answers questions on the technical backend of AncestryDNA in a video interview with InfoQ. The interview took place after his presentation with Bill Yetman on scaling AncestryDNA using Hadoop and HBase at QConSF in 2013. Check it out!

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Jeremy Pollack, a lead engineer at Ancestry.com, answers questions on the technical backend of AncestryDNA in a video interview with InfoQ. The interview took place after his presentation with Bill Yetman on scaling AncestryDNA using Hadoop and HBase at QConSF in 2013. Check it out!

Jeremy P

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Agile Development Leads to a Happier Companyhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/agile-development-leads-to-a-happier-company/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/agile-development-leads-to-a-happier-company/#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 18:22:52 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=1704 Over the past few years Ancestry.com, has undergone a significant transformation within many aspects of its business. Steady growth combined with Agile adoption, continuous delivery, and improvements in technology and infrastructure, has created an organization focused on delivering value. In November, Ancestry.com CEO, Tim Sullivan presented at DevOps conference, FlowCon about the organizations shift to… Read more

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Over the past few years Ancestry.com, has undergone a significant transformation within many aspects of its business. Steady growth combined with Agile adoption, continuous delivery, and improvements in technology and infrastructure, has created an organization focused on delivering value. In November, Ancestry.com CEO, Tim Sullivan presented at DevOps conference, FlowCon about the organizations shift to Agile Development practices. It included what inspired the change in the business and some advice to other executives and senior management on what they can do to start their own transformation and increase flow. During his presentation, Sullivan also touched on how the transition to Agile practices and culture enabled greater innovation, making for a happier company.  Instead of waiting to make bulk updates, teams have the ability to make smaller changes and iterations at any time which allow them to get product and site features to market faster.

 

Please view the full presentation here:

 

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Ancestry.com to Present at QConSFhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-com-to-present-at-qconsf-next-week/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-com-to-present-at-qconsf-next-week/#comments Sat, 09 Nov 2013 18:57:22 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=1492 Like many organizations, Ancestry.com is constantly accumulating more high volume, high velocity data of all kinds. We apply innovation at scale to handle 10 petabytes of highly dynamic family history data, and a flood of new data derived from our autosomal DNA test, AncestryDNA. How do we do it? Join our dynamic duo Bill Yetman… Read more

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Like many organizations, Ancestry.com is constantly accumulating more high volume, high velocity data of all kinds. We apply innovation at scale to handle 10 petabytes of highly dynamic family history data, and a flood of new data derived from our autosomal DNA test, AncestryDNA.

How do we do it? Join our dynamic duo Bill Yetman (manager perspective) and Jeremy Pollack (developer perspective) next week at QConSF for a lively presentation that will dive into the details of how the company scaled to handle a DNA pool size of 200,000 samples and generate 10 million 4th cousin matches to our users. Learn how Agile techniques, the “measure everything” principle, and a unique mix of scientists and engineers worked together to create a unique breakthrough architecture, and created a one-of-a-kind family history product along the way.

By working together and leveraging technologies like Hadoop and HBase, they’ve created an industrial, scalable DNA processing pipeline to bring fun and unique insights to customers regarding their ethnicity and distant cousin matches.

We hope to see you next week!

Scaling AncestryDNA using Hadoop and HBase Session Info:

Monday, November 11, 2:50 – 3:40PM PT

Grand Ballroom A

Presented by Bill Yetman and Jeremy Pollack (Ancestry.com)

speaking-at-sf-2013

About Bill Yetman

Bill Yetman has served as Senior Director of Engineering at Ancestry.com since January 2011. Bill has held multiple positions with Ancestry.com from August 2002, including Senior Director of Engineering, Director of Sites, Mobile and APIs, Director of Ad Operations and Ad Sales, Senior Software Manager of eCommerce and Senior Software Devloper. Prior to joining Ancestry.com, he held several developer and programmer roles with Coresoft Technologies, Inc., Novell/Word Perfect, Fujitsu Systems of America and NCR. Mr. Yetman holds a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University.

About Jeremy Pollack

Jeremy Pollack is a senior engineer at Ancestry.com, where his team supports a team of scientists and makes their discoveries scale. In the past, he’s written code that withstood the traffic from a Superbowl ad, created the content management system for one of the web’s most popular parenting sites, and looked after the technology needs of a well-known online magazine. When he’s not coding, he enjoys reading, playing the darbuka, and throwing awesome dinner parties.

 

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Ancestry.com Employee Honored with Women Tech Awardhttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-com-employee-honored-with-women-tech-award/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/ancestry-com-employee-honored-with-women-tech-award/#comments Thu, 03 Oct 2013 22:44:21 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=1266 Recently, Catherine Ball, VP of Genomics and Bioinformatics for AncestryDNA was announced as a winner for the Women Tech Awards, presented by the Women Tech Council, under the Trailblazer category. The award recognizes technology-focused women who are driving innovation, influencing technology companies, and are passionate about the community.  Other award winners came from companies such… Read more

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Recently, Catherine Ball, VP of Genomics and Bioinformatics for AncestryDNA was announced as a winner for the Women Tech Awards, presented by the Women Tech Council, under the Trailblazer category. The award recognizes technology-focused women who are driving innovation, influencing technology companies, and are passionate about the community.  Other award winners came from companies such as ATK Aerospace Group, Domo, and eBay.

Cathy is a truly remarkable woman. For almost two decades, she has worked as a genomic scientist to help physicians, citizens and other scientists get the most out of genome data. From analyzing data related to large-scale biomedical experiments – well before the current “Big Data” trend – to collaborating on the annotation of the first eukaryotic genome (brewer’s yeast), Cathy has positioned herself and her team on the cutting edge of technology and science. Over the course of her career, Cathy has authored scores of scientific publications, organized several scientific conferences, given dozens of guest lectures, and reviewed hundreds of federal grant proposals and scientific manuscripts that have been key to shedding further light on diverse research topics.

Cathy’s most recent efforts include leading a team of population geneticists, statisticians, and computer scientists to create the analytical approaches behind the AncestryDNA direct-to-consumer genotyping services.

She was born and raised in a small beachside town on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  Exploring tide pools, streams and rain forests helped spark Cathy’s interest in biology; and living in such a multicultural community provided insights into the ways a person’s life can be affected by family history.

Cathy applies the scientific method to everything she does, which is why this award and The Women Tech Council truly embody Cathy’s desire for each of us to stay curious, be honest, have a sense of humor and search out ways to help those around you grow.

Thanks to the Women Tech Council for providing recognition to women that are driving innovation and influencing technology companies. The Women Tech Council’s mission to provide leadership, resources and mentoring for women, while maintaining a strong bond with the business community has been pivotal to developing top technology talent.

Cathy photo 2

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2013 WITI Summit – Where Tech Is Going Videohttp://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/2013-witi-summit-where-tech-is-going-video/ http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/2013-witi-summit-where-tech-is-going-video/#comments Sat, 17 Aug 2013 00:24:50 +0000 Melissa Garrett http://blogs.ancestry.com/techroots/?p=1037 Recently, Ancestry.com Vice President of Genomics and Bioinformatics, Cathy Ball, participated in a panel discussion at WITI’s Women Powering Technology Summit where executives from leading tech companies shared thoughts on the future of where technology is going.  The session was moderated by Liz Gannes of AllThingsD and included executives from Qualcomm, CA Technologies, EMC, and… Read more

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Recently, Ancestry.com Vice President of Genomics and Bioinformatics, Cathy Ball, participated in a panel discussion at WITI’s Women Powering Technology Summit where executives from leading tech companies shared thoughts on the future of where technology is going.  The session was moderated by Liz Gannes of AllThingsD and included executives from Qualcomm, CA Technologies, EMC, and AT&T Labs, in addition to Ancestry.com.

The panel, titled “Where Technology Is Going,” was recorded and is now available on YouTube – link included below.  Topics of discussion covered the latest developments in technology, Big Data trends and the importance of using technology and data to tell stories.

Storytelling has always been at the heart of our business.  Our AncestryDNA product is backed by a brain trust of ten scientists with a passion for telling stories about family history.  As our DNA sample database grows, our science team continues to innovate and make new discoveries about where our ancestors lived hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of years ago.

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