Community Engagement

The Genetic Landscape of the US

February 17, 2017
SWIG Boardroom (CIT241)
Kasia Bryc


What can we learn by studying the genetic ancestry of 5,269 self-described African Americans, 8,663 Latinos, and 148,789 European Americans who are 23andMe customers?

Over the past 500 years, North America has been the site of ongoing mixing of Native Americans, European settlers, and Africans, shaping the early history of what became the United States.  The legacy of historical interactions is visible in the genetic ancestry of present-day Americans, with pervasive mixed ancestry and asymmetrical male and female ancestry contributions. We illustrate how regional ancestry differences reflect historical events, such as early Spanish colonization, waves of immigration from many regions of Europe, and forced relocation of Native Americans within the US. Lastly, fine-scale differences in ancestry can inform our understanding of the relationship between racial and ethnic identities and genetic ancestry.


Kasia joined 23andMe in 2014 and is responsible for the statistical methods underlying the company’s ancestry service. Prior to joining 23andMe, she was an National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. Kasia earned her PhD in Biometry from Cornell University with Dr. Carlos Bustamante, where her research illuminated the genetic population structure of Africans, and the complex admixture of African Americans and Hispanic/Latino populations.