Today’s interview is with Emily Aulicino of the dna – genealem’s genetic genealogy blog. Emily worked for many years as a teacher. Her teaching experience included elementary, middle, and high school as well as special education. She lives with her husband in Oregon. There, she gardens and continues to lecture and teach about genetics, writing, and genetic genealogy at the local community college. Emily is also a published author. Her most recent work is a guide to genetic genealogy, Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond.

Image of Emily Aulicino

Emily Aulicino

Rebekah: How long have you been actively involved in genealogy, and how did you become interested in the field?

Emily: Since 1970 I have been active, although in 1954 when receiving my first Bible, I quickly completed the pedigree chart at the center with the help of my family. I’m a history major and believe that we, the common people, are the ones who made history. To see our family’s involvement, makes us appreciate our past heritage and culture more. When I wrote for my grandmother’s death certificate and found she was born in a county near where I was currently living, I visited a genealogy library to discover three of my family surnames were in that county and there were photos left by a local photographer. I wrote to the historical society of that county and received a letter from the local genealogists who just happened to be a cousin on one of those surnames! We later met.

Rebekah: At what point did you decide to become involved in genetic genealogy?

Emily: As soon as my cousin Chet Ogan mentioned that he had tested for the Border Reivers’ DNA Project at FTDNA. I then began the Ogan Y-DNA project in late August and attended the conference in Houston that year. When Katherine Borges heard I was a retired teacher, she said I would be a good candidate as an ISOGG speaker. The rest is history.

Rebekah: What genetic ancestry tests have you taken?

Emily: The full mtDNA at FTDNA, the autosomal tests at FTDNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA. I have also taken Geno 1 and 2.

Rebekah: Have you tested family members?

Emily: Yes, several. I’ve tested their Y and/or autosomal to determine matches with my surname and other parts of my pedigree chart as well as dividing my pedigree chart for the purposes of mapping my chromosomes. I have had my Doolin cousin do several SNP tests, also. He and my husband have taken Geno 1 and 2, also.

Rebekah: Have you ever been surprised by your or your family’s test results?

Emily: Oh yes. My second cousin is not my second cousin, but we tested other family members to determine which of us had the correct lineage. I did. However, as a result we were able to determine her maiden name as well.

Another male line was thought to be connected to one of my surnames. Circumstantial evidence indicated it was so, but DNA said no. I am still trying to find another tester in the case there is an NPE [Non-Paternal Event] in his family.

Rebekah: Has genetic genealogy helped you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?

Emily: Yes. Success is measured by giant leaps as well as by tiny steps (I do a presentation on this). Here is one example.

—I matched a known second cousin on the Gilmore-Ogan branch. I then used Blaine Bettinger’s fan chart to determine which ancestors for each of us could have contributed the DNA. Discovered the ancestor who provided a DNA segment on the X-chromosome in minutes. Success is knowing which ancestor provided a DNA segment.

Rebekah: Are you involved as a group project administrator? If so, what made you decide to become involved? What projects do you administrate or co-administrate?

Emily: Yes. I usually say that my first love was genealogy and my husband may think that at times. When my distant genealogical cousin did a Y-DNA test for the Border Revivers’ project at FTDNA, I decided it is time to determine if all the Ogan lineages I had collected over the years were related. So, I started the Ogan Y-DNA project. Then one thing lead to another, I started Y-projects for my other favorite surnames before anyone else could. Maybe that is part of being a teacher…a bit control freak and the desire to teach others no matter the subject.

I am the admin for these surnames, geographical and societal projects: Doolin, Ogan, Talley-Tally, Conrad, Stubblefield, Lamson, Derby, Campania Province of Italy, Messina Region of Sicily, Genealogy Forum of Oregon (society), Willamette Valley Genealogical Society, Idaho Genealogical Society, and U5a1a1 mtDNA project.