Angie Bush is a mother, a professional genealogist, and a genetic genealogy consultant. She and her family live in Utah.
Question: Please tell me about yourself. What do you do for a living? What are your other hobbies and interests apart from genealogy?
Answer: I have been a professional genetic genealogist since 2012. I’m very lucky to have been able to combine my two loves (genetics and genealogy) into a career. Apart from genealogy, I enjoy spending time with my family (2 daughters and husband). We love being able to spend summers boating and waterskiing. I also enjoy reading and driving through the canyons near my home enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Question: What brought you to genealogy? What is your favorite part?
Answer: When I was about 8 years old, I had to fill out a pedigree chart for a church activity. I wanted to fill in the blanks for everyone on that chart and to know their stories. My favorite part is uncovering the stories of my ancestors lives and recognizing that they really weren’t all that different from me. I love finding old photos and putting “meat on the bones” of their lives. Being a genetic genealogist, chromosome mapping comes in near the top of my favorite part because I can see the genetic contributions my ancestors made to me.
Question: How did you become involved in genetic genealogy?
Answer: As I mentioned, I have been interested in genealogy from a young age. In high school, I really became intrigued by DNA, and decided to major in something that was DNA related – molecular biology. My advisor in college was Scott Woodward, who was the director of SMGF, and although SMGF was after my time, I did keep an eye on that project. I also worked in biotech for a number of years. Although I could see genealogical usefulness for Y-DNA and mtDNA testing in those early years, I didn’t really become heavily involved in the genetic genealogy community until autosomal DNA testing became available. I could see the power and potential of autosomal DNA testing for a wide variety of applications, and decided that I could combine my two passions into one in early 2012.
Question: The need for consumer genetic testing standards has been a topic for years now. To what extent do you think government regulation is needed? Do you feel that the responsibility for consumer education lies with the testing companies, the citizen science community, or the consumer?
Answer: Increasingly, there is more and more regulation on all kinds of information. Genealogical records and information that were once widely available are no longer available, and this is hampering many genealogists in their research activities. I believe that if there were more government regulation on consumer DNA testing, that genealogists stand a very good chance of losing access to “DNA sources” as well, so I’m generally not in favor of the government regulating genetic genealogy testing.
In my perfect world, consumers would educate themselves and know what they are buying before they buy it, but I also recognize that doesn’t happen the majority of the time (It does flabbergast me sometimes that people will spend $100+ on something and have no idea what they bought!), so I recognize that if we (as a community) do not want DNA to be “taken away” by government regulation that we will need to show that we can self-regulate and educate wherever possible. That may not be enough to prevent regulation, but it is the best we can do. In the genealogical community a committee known as RPAC (http://www.fgs.org/rpac/about-2/) was formed to deal with records access issues. Perhaps something similar (a conglomeration of companies, societies, etc.) would be a good idea for genetic genealogy.
Question: What DNA tests have you taken?
Answer: mtDNA, Y-DNA, autosomal DNA at the “big 3”, Geno 2.0 and DNA Tribe Code.
Question: Have you tested your family?
Answer: Yes. My grandparents, my in-laws, my husband, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, a few cousins, and some great-aunts and uncles. Basically, everyone I can get my hands on from the older generations, and then as $$ has allowed, I’ve tested descendants so I can track inheritance of segments and chromosome map.
Question: Have your or your family’s test results ever been a surprise?
Answer: Unfortunately, no! I was so hoping to find a skeleton in the proverbial family closet, but there isn’t anything!
Question: Has genetic genealogy helped you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?
Answer: Yes. A couple of different mysteries/questions. The one I’m most excited about is a 40-year old “brick wall” on my paternal grandfather’s side of the family. I had a candidate couple to be the “brick wall” grandfather’s parents, and there is really no other couple that could be his parents, but I had no direct evidence of a connection. Last spring, I had an autosomal DNA match contact me, and she has a documented paper trail to the candidate couple – we share 30 cMs of atDNA in a single segment. I still need to make my case a bit stronger, but am pretty sure this “brick wall” may finally be coming down.
Question: Do you have advice for someone starting out in genealogy or genetic genealogy DNA?
Answer: There is no “magic bullet” for researching your family, or researching any topic for that matter. Take things one step at a time, and double-check things as you go.
Question: What do you think the future holds for genetic genealogy?
Answer: I think the future is really limitless. I’m excited to see things like genome reconstruction of distant ancestors. Of course, I think the stories of foundlings, adoptees and others with unknown parentage being able to finally find their family will continue to pour in. Ultimately, to me genealogy and genetic genealogy are all about how everyone is connected and more alike than we are different.