Posted by Julie Granka on October 15, 2014 in DNA, Science

For the AncestryDNA science team, October brings more than fall foliage and pumpkins.  It also brings us the yearly meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), the main conference of the year in our field.

On Saturday, we’ll arrive in San Diego to join thousands of other scientists for a four day conference to discuss topics in genetics, exchange ideas with colleagues, listen to talks and presentations – and importantly, to give some presentations of our own.

We’re always on the lookout for ways that we can translate the latest scientific findings into future features for AncestryDNA customers.  The ASHG Annual Meeting is a chance for all of us to soak up the newest advancements in human genetics.

This year, the number and variety of presentations that we are giving at ASHG attests to the fact that AncestryDNA, too, plays a role in these advancements.

This year, we’re proud to be giving two platform presentations – only 8% of applications for platform presentations at ASHG were accepted. Keith Noto will be giving a platform talk entitled “Underdog: A Fully-Supervised Phasing Algorithm that Learns from Hundreds of Thousands of Samples and Phases in Minutes,” discussing the workings behind an impressive algorithm we’ve developed to phase genotype data extremely quickly and accurately. Yong Wang’s platform talk will reveal a few fascinating discoveries about U.S. population history from studying patterns of ethnicity and identity-by-descent among AncestryDNA customers.

We’ll also be giving a number of poster presentations.  Mathew Barber will be presenting the method behind another algorithm that we’ve developed to better identify true identical-by-descent DNA matches.  I’ll be presenting a method we’ve developed to reconstruct the genomes of ancestors from genotype data of their descendants.  Jake Byrnes will be presenting a poster with a collaborator from Stanford University about inferring sub-continental local genomic ancestry. Finally, Eunjung Han and Peter Carbonetto will each present results from previous research they conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Chicago, respectively.

We’re looking forward to engaging in insightful dialogue about our work with the scientific community. Even if we won’t see much fall foliage in San Diego.

Julie Granka

Julie has been a population geneticist at AncestryDNA since May 2013. Before that, Julie received her Ph.D. in Biology and M.S. in Statistics from Stanford University, where she studied genetic data from human populations and developed computational tools to answer questions about population history and evolution. She also spent time collecting and studying DNA using spit-collection tubes like the ones in an AncestryDNA kit. Julie likes to spend her non-computer time enjoying the outdoors – hiking, biking, running, swimming, camping, and picnicking. But if she’s inside, she’s baking, drawing, and painting.