History students intrigued by DNA results

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History students intrigued by DNA results


USC History students whose DNA was profiled, from left, Yannick Carroll, Megan Fischer and Joseph Young with their DNA swab vials

8 July 2014

An innovative, personalised DNA project has produced surprising results for a group of History students at the USC.

USC Lecturer in History and Futures Dr Marcus Bussey said students of his course Global Citizens: A History of Humanity had been “blown away” by the project, in which they shared the experiences of three volunteers who sent DNA to an American laboratory to undergo the latest profiling techniques.

Dr Bussey said it was the first time he had incorporated National Geographic’s Genographic Project test kit into a USC course and he was delighted by the students’ interest and learning outcomes.

“The samples of three students from different ethnic backgrounds were tested, and the results were fascinating, perplexing or confirmed what they already knew about their genetic history,” he said.

“Joseph Young’s DNA results matched his understanding of his Australian Indigenous background, Yannick Carroll was fascinated by his ancestry including Puerto Rican, Sub-Saharan African and European, and there was a wonderful surprise for Megan Fischer,” Dr Bussey said.

Ms Fischer, 23, of Everton Hills in Brisbane, said she was amazed to discover she had two percent Native American in her genetic profile dating back thousands of years.

“I thought this was a fantastic opportunity because my family tree is not very detailed,” she said.

“I’m of European descent and I got the English and German results, but I also got Native American and I was like, ‘where does that come from?’. Now I’m even more interested to find out about my ancestry.”

The Business/Arts student said she enjoyed relating the History course to the rest of her now-completed degree majoring in international relations, business and politics.

“It’s another perspective because you realise world history is not just about wars. It goes right back to where our line started,” she said.

Dr Bussey said he was pleased to see the whole class of students change their sense of history after the project.

“The majority of human history predates human text so we are now looking to genetic markers because they can be dated, like layers in an archaeological dig.”

– Julie Schomberg

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