Jen uses DNA analysis in conjunction with traditional genealogical research to identify unknown biological family members, solve historical mysteries, and break down brick walls. She honed her research and writing skills as a daily newspaper reporter. Her journalism background instilled in her a healthy skepticism, attention to detail, and dedication to accuracy.
Education and Training
Jen completed Boston University’s Certificate in Genealogical Research as well as the ProGen study program. She has attended a number of week-long intensive study programs, including the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research; the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy; and the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin.
Jen specializes in unknown/misattributed parent research, historical DNA analysis and research, general U.S. genealogy research, newspaper research and is part of the DNA team at Legacy Tree.
During a college summer newspaper internship, Jen took on her first major genealogical project. She reached out to her grandparents’ siblings, friends, and neighbors for anecdotes, messages and photographs, which she published in a small book to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary. She also ordered copies of their birth certificates and marriage license to display at the party. Although she was embarking on her journalism career, the project reignited her interest in genealogy and foreshadowed her future.
After twelve years writing “the first rough draft of history” for daily newspapers, Jen became a high school journalism teacher. She advised students in how to document their peers’ experiences for posterity in the school yearbook and newspaper. During vacations, she could be found doing genealogical research for days on end.
In 2014 Jen discovered the awesome power of using DNA analysis in conjunction with traditional genealogical research and started buying DNA tests for every relative willing to take one. She also began helping cousins and friends identify previously unknown biological family members.
In 2015, she decided to transition from hobbyist to professional genealogist. Three years later Legacy Tree selected Jen as a genetic genealogy intern and she has continued to work with the company ever since. She is an advanced researcher on the DNA team. She also manages several Y-DNA research projects related to her ancestral lines and serves as a board member for a family foundation honoring her great-grandparents.
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