HOST: Randall Pinkston
PARTICIPANTS: Louise Mirrer, Catherine Ball, Brenna Henn, CeCe Moore, Mark D. Shriver
PROGRAM DATE: Thursday, May 29, 2014


Researching the farthest branches of your family tree is now faster, cheaper, more accessible and more accurate than ever before. Today you can find distant living relatives, learn how you are related to important historical figures or discover how your ancestors participated in major movements in human history.  And, using advanced technologies to analyze face structure and skin pigmentation, evolutionary geneticists can determine what your ancestors actually looked like.  Join a conversation among leading researchers about how gains in computational power, together with technological innovations, are allowing scientists to come ever closer to understanding how we are all connected.

This program is produced in collaboration with The New-York Historical Society.

Special Note: Participating Penn State geneticist Dr. Mark D.Shriver has organized a unique opportunity to volunteer onsite for his lab’s ongoing genetic genealogy research study.

Additionally, the New-York Historical Society is kindly allowing people free access all day (10 am – 6pm) to the museum for those who show their ticket to this event. That means you can come early, check out the museum’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library for genealogical research and the N-YHS’s other terrific exhibits and volunteer for Penn State’s research study if you choose.

  • Share This:


Broadcast Journalist

Randall Pinkston was a CBS News correspondent for more than 30 years, including two years covering the White House. Among his many awards are three Emmys, including one for Outstanding Investigative Reporting for “CBS Reports: Legacy of Shame” about migrant farm workers in the USA. He has covered the front lines of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. His final report for CBS profiled the civil rights activist Medgar Evers. In 2013, Pinkston joined Al Jazeera America as a contributor. He has been honored by the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Council of Churches of the City of New York and the Scripps-Howard Foundation for a series on mentally ill and physically handicapped people. He began his broadcast career at a TV station in Mississippi, where he was raised.


Louise Mirrer_200
President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society

Louise Mirrer joined the New-York Historical Society as President and CEO in June 2004. Under her guidance, New-York Historical is reinvigorating its commitment to foster greater public understanding of history and its impact on the world of today, to support and encourage historical scholarship, and to develop education initiatives for young people, students, and adults. Under her direction, the New-York Historical Society has launched groundbreaking exhibitions, including Slavery in New York; New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War; A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls; French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; and WWII & NYC. In recent years, Dr. Mirrer has been honored with the Woman of Distinction Medal, League of Women Voters, 2007; Dean’s Medal, CUNY Honors College, 2005; Education and Student Advocacy Award, Hostos Community College, 2005; President’s Medal, CUNY Graduate Center, 2004; Leadership Award, Asian-American Research Institution, 2003; New York Post’s “50 Most Influential Women in New York,” 2003; Citation of Honor, Queens Borough President’s Office, 2001; Women Making History Award, Queensborough Community College, 2001; and the YWCA “Women Achievers” Award, 2000. In 2007 she was made an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Genomic Scientist

Catherine Ball leads a group of population geneticists, statisticians, and computer scientists and oversees the analytical approaches behind’s direct-to-consumer genotyping services. She is a genomic scientist who has annotated and mined the genomes of various organisms and created resources to help clinicians, citizens and other scientists exploit and explore genome data. Ball has collaborated on the annotation of the first sequenced eukaryotic genome (brewer’s yeast) and has collaboratively built databases to explore the genomes of yeast, E. coli and the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. As a pioneer in data analysis resources for high-throughput biomedical technologies, she led the Stanford Microarray Database, the largest academic database of its kind. She has used high-throughput biomedical data to shed light on diverse research topics, from the biology of infectious organisms to the mechanisms involved in cell division and cancer. She received a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Ball was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley prior to her research in the Departments of Genetics and Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Brenna Henn_192
Anthropologist, Evolutionary Geneticist

Brenna Henn is principal investigator of the Henn Lab and also teaches in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University, SUNY. Her expertise is the history of African populations and diverse, indigenous populations from around the world who harbor genetic, linguistic and phenotypic variation that is often overlooked in more commonly studied urban populations. Motivated by her doctoral work in anthropology and evolutionary genetics at Stanford University and her postdoctoral work leading several African genomic projects aimed at understanding the origins of modern humans and dispersals out of Africa, she aims to approach questions of genetic and phenotypic diversity from an interdisciplinary standpoint.

Genetic Genealogist

CeCe Moore is a professional genetic genealogist who is considered an innovator in the use of DNA for genealogical purposes. Currently, she is working as the genetic genealogy consultant and scriptwriter for PBS’ “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.” and recently completed work for “Genealogy Roadshow”. She is the author of the personal genomics blog  “Your Genetic Genealogist” (, which boasts tens of thousands of readers from 180 countries and “Adoption and DNA”  ( where she writes about adoptees who have discovered their genetic heritage through DNA testing. CeCe is frequently consulted by the press, recently appearing on 20/20, CBS This Morning and The Doctors and quoted internationally including in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, People Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, ABC News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Wired Magazine, The Root, Fox Health, BioArray News and many others.

Anthropologist, Geneticist

Mark Shriver is Professor of Anthropology and Genetics at The Pennsylvania State University. His research seeks to elucidate the genetic evolution that took place during and after the spread of modern humans. His lab focuses on traits and disease risks that differ among human populations and between the sexes, including premature birth, type-2 diabetes, hypoxia, hair form, skin pigmentation, and facial features. Shriver is also involved with applying these findings in forensic science, human genetics, and genealogy. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.