DNA 101

Keywords: gene expression, recombination, sequencing, genotyping, genetics, DNA

Patricia Penton is a software engineer at 23andMe. Patricia is mainly responsible for building internal web-based tools to support various teams within the company. Prior to joining 23andMe, Patricia was a microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. She studied molecular biology at the University of Cincinnati, where she investigated HIV phylogenetics, and hepatitis B virus drug resistance. Before becoming a microbiologist, Patricia was a community organizer for a political nonprofit group. She worked on several local, state, and federal elections throughout the Midwest. As a former docent at the CDC Museum, and a former teaching assistant, Patricia is passionate about STEM education for all ages. Follow Patricia on Twitter @pkpenton.

There's Something About Neanderthals
Key words: Neanderthals, Neander Valley, ancient humans, migrations

Alexandra Langston. Alexandra (Alex) is a Customer Operations Specialist and a member of the Customer Care Team. Alex graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California, where she studied Biology and Music/Vocal Performance! She then joined the Peace Corps and served as a Health Promoter in rural Guatemala. She is excited to be in a position at 23andMe where her love for health and science intersects with her desire to empower people to be proactive about their own health and life journeys. Outside of work, Alex sings in a Bay Area semi-professional a cappella group called “Smorgaschord.” She also enjoys rock climbing and loves to travel. Alex is a firm believer that exploring the world is one of the best forms of education!

Nature vs. Nurture
Key words: heritability, environment, lifestyle, genetics, DNA

Ruth Tennen, PhD is a Product Scientist at 23andMe. Ruth develops engaging scientific content for 23andMe’s genetic reports. Ruth received her Bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Princeton and her Ph.D. in cancer biology from Stanford, where she shared her love of science by teaching hands-on classes to students at local schools, hospitals, and museums and by blogging on the San Jose Tech Museum’s website. After grad school, Ruth worked as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the State Department, helping promote science education and entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. Before coming to 23andMe, Ruth served as a teaching fellow in the Thinking Matters program at Stanford, teaching courses on experimental design, bioethics, and cancer.

In her work at 23andMe, Ruth critically evaluates the scientific literature to identify exciting new report topics for our customers, and she develops compelling and accurate scientific content for those reports. Ruth is excited about helping people learn more about genetics, through 23andMe’s reports and through its educational initiatives!

Simplifying Complex Traits
Keywords: polygenic, complex trait, wake up time, morning person, night owl, genetics, DNA

Sarah Laskey, PhD is a Health R&D Scientist who joined 23andMe in the summer of 2016. Sarah works on the Research team, using the 23andMe database to power new genetic discoveries and product features for 23andMe customers. Sarah is proud to work with the 23andMe Education team, but she also loves to learn — she credits her high school Biology teacher with kindling her love for science and science communication. Before she worked at 23andMe, Sarah spent many years in school; she received a BS in Biological Engineering from MIT and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

What are Haplogroups?
Key words: maternal haplogroup, paternal haplogroup, y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, genetics, DNA

Samantha Esselmann, PhD is a Content & Curation Scientist, who joined the Ancestry Team at 23andMe late in 2017. As a content scientist on the team, Samantha works closely with 23andMe’s population geneticists and content writers to craft an engaging (and educational!) product experience. Samantha became passionate about science communication during her Neuroscience PhD at the University of California, San Francisco, where she produced science podcasts and captained the UCSF Science Policy Group. In 2016, she served as the BRCA Foundation’s Multimedia Science Communications Coordinator, where she produced a podcast series highlighting a diversity of experiences related to hereditary forms of cancer.

My DNA Relatives And Me
Key words: DNA Relatives, family relationships, genetics, DNA

Lindsay Grove is a Senior Product Specialist and provides customers with outstanding service throughout their 23andMe experience, and she is primarily responsible for product support as a Senior Product Specialist on the Customer Care Team. Prior to joining 23andMe, Lindsay was a senior account manager at Wei Laboratories. Lindsay grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychobiology from Santa Clara University.

Seeing Our Ancestry Through Our DNA
Key words: ancestry composition, recent location ancestors, genetics, DNA

Erica Bellman is a 23andMe as Ancestry Content Writer. She’s responsible for researching and writing engaging and informative content that allows customers to develop a more complete picture of their ancestry. As a lifelong storyteller (she published her first poem in an anthology at age 8), Erica is constantly seeking new ways to better express ideas about who we are and where we come from.

Erica has worked as an art and design journalist for The New York Times, Interview, New York Magazine, and other publications. She’s written impactful copy and content for consumer brands like Allbirds, Under Armour, Gap, Levi’s, and Mountain Hardwear. When she’s not writing, Erica is a voracious reader, surfer, rock climber, runner, and vegetarian cook.  

Understanding DNA Variants
Key words: DNA variants, SNP, genetics, DNA

Kayla Capper, PhD is a Product Scientist at 23andMe where she evaluates the scientific literature and develops compelling and accurate scientific content for the 23andMe health reports. She enjoys the challenge of simplifying complex scientific topics in a creative and engaging manner and strives to deliver content that inspires and educates others.

Kayla received her bachelor’s degree in genetics from the University of Kansas and her Ph.D. in cancer biology from the University of Michigan.

Brains, Games And DNA Discovery
Key words: neuroscience, empathy, brain, games, genetics, DNA

Will Smith is a Research Survey Methodologist for the Data Collection Team at 23andMe and the Decoder’s Creative Director. He supports the  development, testing, and implementation of our cognitive and interactive data collection tools. He also creates surveys, conducts user testing sessions, and designs spirit swag. William has a background in, design, education and community development, and earned his B.A. in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Southern California, where he was also the mascot!

The Power Of Education
Key words: education, compassion, appreciation, genetics, DNA

Thao Do, PhD is the Education and Academia Marketing Manager at 23andMe. She has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the University of Oxford, with a fellowship from the U.S. National Science Foundation. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech. She is a named inventor on a patent held by Harvard University and has co-authored several journal papers and a book chapter.

She earned a Scientists Teaching Science Certificate from NIH and taught doctors-in-training at the University of Oxford.

She has been teaching, mentoring and organizing science and engineering events at universities and museums for many years. In her free time, Dr. Do is training to be a flight instructor so she can also share her love of aviation with her students. Dr. Do’s goal is to make education fun and exciting for everyone!

The Importance Of Diversity In Research
Key words: research, diversity, genetics, DNA

Jennifer McCreight, PhD, is a Research Communications Scientist, who joined 23andMe in 2017. She communicates our research studies to broader scientific audiences via social media and blog posts and oversees our conference attendance strategy. Previously she ran a science blog and gave 50+ lectures on genetics and evolution for the general public. Jennifer earned her PhD in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington, where she studied the evolution of microRNA in primates and was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, and holds a BS in Biology from Purdue University.

How Does Genetics Research Work?
Key words: GWAS, scientific method, genetics research, genetics, DNA

James Ashenhurst, PhD, is a Product Scientist II on the R&D team, where he helps turn 23andMe data into new reports and features for the 23andMe Personal Genome Service. After finishing a BA in Psychology from Princeton University, he completed a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA in 2014. While at UCLA and during a subsequent postdoctoral fellowship through the Waggoner Center at UT Austin, he studied the genetics and psychopharmacology of risk-taking behavior and alcohol use disorders. Dr. Ashenhurst believes that in the decades to come, broad education about genetics will be important in order to empower people to better understand themselves and to improve public health for everyone.

The DNA Download

The DNA Download is a new 23andMe 12-part educational series starring 23andMe employees and Halleta Alemu, where we explain the science of genetics so you can live in the know.

Start your genetic journey. Get your education discount!