Programs & Events

Science Cafe: Genetic Ancestry

Program Number: 
Program Type: 
Science Talks
Jul. 24, 2014 | Thursday, 7:00pm
Multiple Times: 
Discussion begins at 7pm followed by Q&A
Location: Nature Research Center - The Daily Planet Café

We are all Connected. DNA Portraits of a Diverse Community

Where do we come from? That's what humans have been asking for a long time and now scientists have some answers. By mapping the markers in male DNA (Y chromosome) and female DNA (mitochondria) we know we are all African with very ancient lineages. Once thought lost forever, our prehistoric ancestry is made visible and connected to current time through our own, personal DNA. Join multimedia artist Lynn Fellman and geneticist Dr. Julie Horvath as they explain how deep time relates to current time by describing the basis of Fellman's DNA portraits, now on display in the bridge connecting the Museum’s two wings. 

Embedded in each of the five portraits of people with diverse backgrounds are the migration routes based on their DNA and data from scientific research. Fellman will tell how she makes these portraits, using everything from sketches to paint to digital tools, to combine art with science. Fellman will further explain how she worked with the portrait participants, using lab kits to sequence their DNA and helping them to interpret their results. You will learn the ancient story of human migrations that began 2,000 generations ago in Africa with our ancestors moving across the continents to all parts of the world. These migrations have continued to modern time so that we can connect our family, neighborhood and towns to locations from prehistoric time. Discover how we all share a common lineage with everyone alive on the planet today. 

About Our Speakers

Lynn Fellman is an independent multimedia artist who works with scientists to communicate their research in genomic science. Recently, Fellman was an artist and journalist in residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) where she developed two interactive books about genomic science. The iBooks, "Visions of Neanderkin" and "Gene Stories" will be published in the Apple bookstore in 2015. She is currently a Fulbright scholar to Israel and will begin work at Ben-Gurion University later this year. See more of Lynn Fellman's work on her website

Dr. Julie Horvath is the Director of the Genomics and Microbiology Research Laboratory at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Biology at NC Central University. Dr. Horvath holds a PhD in Human Genetics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Her research focuses on comparative evolutionary genetics because she is interested in understanding the evolutionary forces that have shaped our genome and that of our ancestors. Several examples of Horvath’s research investigate the connection between genotype (DNA sequence) and phenotype (traits and characteristics) that make flora and fauna unique.