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NYC Students Peek Back at Ancient Family History

About 200 students from the City College of New York and seven other area institutions are taking part in the New York City Student Ancestry Project. The new effort, led by CCNY assistant biology professor Michael Hickerson, aims to show students how to analyze genomic data to reconstruct their ancient family histories as well as to "provide a model for public understanding of complex population genetic inference."

Students taking part in the project are submitting cheek swabs for analysis through National Geographic's Genographic Project.

Representatives of the nine-year-old Genographic Project, which uses an Illumina genotyping array to generate ancestry data, have in recent months traveled to County Mayo in Ireland, the Pacific island of Guam, and the community of Asturias in northwestern Spain for similar outreach efforts.

The New York City Student Ancestry Project kicked off earlier this week with an event at the American Museum of Natural History, and Hickerson aims to reconvene participants for a follow-up event in April, where students will discuss population genetics with Genographic Project director Spencer Wells, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Dorothy Roberts.