GENE201 Week 8 M8A4: Final Project


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GENE201 Week 8 M8A4: Final Project

In this final activity, you will use everything you have learned in this course to develop a testing plan for a fictional client. Identifying the parents of an ancestor is one of the most common tasks completed by a genealogist, whether it is for his or her own family or for a client. Many different tools and record types can assist the genealogist with this search, including DNA test results.

Background – Finding the Parents of Winston and Minerva Thrush
Tara has been researching her family tree for several decades, long before the advent of DNA as a record type. One of her families is the Thrush family of Washington County, New York. Tara is descended from Winston Thrush, born in Whitehall, Washington County in 1848. Winston had a sibling Minerva, born in Whitehall in 1850. Unfortunately, by the 1850 census, the very young Winston and Minerva had been taken in by the White family. According to family legend passed down from Winston, the parents both died from a sickness in the winter, and the children were split into two groups, one of which was Winston and Minerva.

A search of census and other records fails to identify any Thrush children in New York or anywhere else living with a family other than a Thrush family, or a Thrush couple that died approximately 1850. In 1860, however, a Daniel and Susan Thrush are living in the neighboring village of Fair Haven, Washington County, with children Benjamin (b. 1846), Ephraim (b. 1852), and Amelia (b. 1854). Tara has hypothesized that Daniel and Susan were the parents of Winston and Minerva, but something happened that caused them to give the two siblings to the White family.

Using the available information, Tara has recreated one family tree containing descendants of Minerva Thrush and her brother Winston Thrush [FIG. 1], and a second family tree containing the descendants of Benjamin Thrush and Amelia Thrush [FIG. 2]. To date, Tara has not found Ephraim Thrush as an adult in any record.

Tara would like to determine whether Daniel and Susan Thrush were the parents of Minerva Thrush and Winston Thrush using DNA. Tara isn’t familiar with DNA and has asked you, a practicing genetic genealogist, to design a DNA testing plan. Fortunately, the cost of testing isn’t a consideration for Tara, since another family line was very prosperous!

Design a testing plan for Tara that includes at least three different types of DNA test results, using as many descendants as you believe necessary to arrive at a conclusion. Determine what you expect the outcome of each DNA test to reveal. NOTE: only the descendants in the last generation (with names) are living, and only the descendants depicted in the tree are currently available for testing.

Then, write a report to Tara describing the DNA testing plan you’ve devised. Your testing plan and report must describe the following, at a minimum:

Which types of DNA tests you suggest;
How each type of DNA test can help analyze the problem;
How many people—and exactly which of the descendants—you suggest testing for each DNA test type;
An identification of the company or companies you will test each person, and why you have selected that company or companies;
An identification of at least one third-party site, including at least three different tools, that you will use to analyze test results;
How the third-party site(s) and tools will help Tara analyze her hypothesis;
Which test results from two or more people should be compared for each DNA test type;
What you predict or hypothesize the results of each comparison will reveal; and
An identification of at least five different issues or pitfalls, ethical or scientific, that Tara could run into before, during, and after DNA testing.