About Me

Roberta EstesRoberta Estes has been a professional scientist and business owner for 25+ years, (MS Computer Science, MBA, graduate work in Geographic Information Systems), as well as an obsessed genealogist since 1978.

In 2005, reflecting her interest and expertise in genetics for genealogy, she formed DNAeXplain, a company providing individual analysis of DNA results and consulting services.

Roberta is a National Geographic Society, Genographic Project affiliate scientific researcher and became part of the design team in 2012. Roberta has authored multiple academic papers, provided content and consultation to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the History Channel, and other organizations and businesses.

The Million Mito Project

In 2020, Roberta launched the Million Mito Project, a collaborative scientific effort to rewrite the tree of womankind for all of humanity in partnership with Dr. Miguel Vilar, Lead Scientist for the Genographic Project, Dr. Paul Maier, Population Geneticist at FamilyTreeDNA and Goran Runfeldt, Head of Research and Development at FamilyTreeDNA. 

Early Years of Genetic Genealogy

In 2000, thanks to FamilyTreeDNA, the infant scientific field of DNA for genealogy emerged, allowing DNA to be used to trace individuals to common ancestors. With traditional genealogical records already researched to no avail, and several brick walls needing to fall, Roberta was one of the early DNA project administrators and pioneer adopters of DNA analysis for genealogy. Roberta manages over 20 DNA projects with an emphasis on Native American heritage.

Roberta’s blog, Native Heritage Project documents early evidence of Native people in records and can be found at www.nativeheritageproject.com.

Products and Services

You can purchase Roberta’s book, DNA for Native American Genealogyhere for people ordering within the US, or here for people outside the US.

Roberta speaks and writes widely about DNA and genealogy and has provided keynotes at several major conferences. Her educational webinars are among the most-watched in the industry.

Follow Roberta’s activities and available educational resources by subscribing to this free blog.

Currently, Roberta is not accepting private clients but is pleased to recommend to Legacy Tree Genealogists.

You can e-mail Roberta at roberta@dnaexplain.com.

439 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I have been working on trying to solve my 3rd great grandfather Berry H Williams’ mystery. yDNA testing shows that the inferred brotehr and father are not his as the yDNA haplogroup differs (R-M269 for the inferred Williams relatives, E-M2 for Berry’s male descendant). How do I find out which was his line? He has exact atches at level 12 markers to Powell, Warwick, Sweat, Scherer. He is an almost identical match with one marker difference to an Ephraim Sweat at 37 level. At 67 level he matches a R Sweat, J. Sweat and M. Scherer but the others have not tested beyond 37 markers. No matches at the 111 markers yet (we upgrded the Williams descendant to 111, it’s still in progress). The weird thing is Berry’s wife was Martha Giddens Sweat which just adds to the confusion – maybe Berryw as a Sweat and theyw ere cousins or Martha had the kids by a Sweat (but census records show her and Berry as together with all the kids from 1 months old). They were in Bulloch County, GA.

    • You are doing the right things. I’d the other 12 marker matches have tested above that and don’t match, they have eliminated themselves.

  2. Hi, I have haplogroup R-BY39347. Genetic research on the skeletons of those Vikings shows that one of them has the same haplogroup. Would that mean he is a distant ancestor of mine ? Greetings from Belgium, Johnny Couck.

  3. !! I am an Overlease. But I have had much frustration getting past my greatgrandmother. Most Overlease’s are found in Missouri.I really now think the Bartlesville, Oklahoma connection may be is the one I should be looking into. Thank you for a wonderful detailed trip back in time.

  4. I’m a woman that was in the forced assistant right now I’m going to be 65 years old and still don’t know neither one of my parents I would love to get a DNA could you help me out and by the way I’m dyslexic so I have problems doing things so please help me out thank you so much

  5. I have done ancestry DNA. I would love to know where to go from here to finding if any native ties. What do I do. I need help.

  6. Hi Roberta, I’m a direct descendant of Lytle Hickerson and Amelia Gwyn (not so far back either: I’m 81). Just wondering if my cousin Felix Hickerson’s second book, “Echoes of Happy Valley” published with some new material about 20 years after the first one, would be of any help in solving the Hickerson conundrum you’ve written about in such fascinating detail and which I’ve only just now come across and read with enormous interest.

    And can you give me some advice on how to find how fairly distant cousins are related? In my 23andme list of relatives I’m seeing both sides of my family turning up in a single relative’s list. But don’t know how to reconcile how and when they conjoin. My parents grew up in totally different place and were very different sorts of families. Thank you!

    • Someone must have some common ancestors. I don’t recall if I have the second book and I’ve moved so everything is still packed.

      I would suggest uploading your DNA file to FamilyTreeDNA because lots of Hickerson relatives there too. 23andMe limits your matches and I’d love to know if we match.

  7. Hi Roberta, So I sent my dna to 23 and me awhile ago and the first iteration resulted in a variety of admixtures (italian, french, north african to mention). Then about 1yr or so ago, get an email saying that the admixtures were recalibrated and suddenly I am 100% italian. Ok. not sure what happened ( I can trace both sides of my family to the same town in Italy and we have been there for 300+ years). This year I used my heritage and suddenly I have 2.9% Ashkenazi genes in addition to the majority Italian/Middle Eastern, North African etc. I am trying to make sense of the wildly divergent results. What gives? thanks, josephine

    • Every vendor has a different algorithm. I’ve written several articles about this. Search for the term “ethnicity.” You’ll find helpful articles.

  8. Recently I decided to join Ancestry since I have close family on this site as well. In doing so I have hit a bump and have been trying to find some answers to why my mothers DNA results are only 29%. We have 2,035cM across 53 segments (Fact: She is my biological mother).
    I have read about invisible DNA, could she be a carrier? Or are there any other explanations? I’m just trying to understand, since there is not much information on this type of outcome.
    Thank you

    • Using this tool, you can see the only possibilities for 29%. https://dnapainter.com/tools/sharedcmv4
      I have seen people send in multiple tests at the same time from multiple family members and get the vials confused. I don’t know if this is possible in your case or not. There is no “invisible” DNA, but someone may have been talking about untested regions. These tests test the same locations for everyone, and specific relatives fall into predictable and confirmed ranges. If you feel there is an error, transfer you and your mothers results to either FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage or GEDmatch and take a look there. If you still feel there’s an error, test again from scratch at FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage or 23andMe. Best of luck to you.

  9. Female has male match at 1962 cM and X match of 83 cM and believed to be 1C 7 years apart in age; probability tools suggests half siblings. They are children of a brother and sister. I think the X match tells me that they share a mother. Could the X come from a sister of the mother through a unusual adoption situation? Where can I turn for help figuring this out? Thank you.
    Susan (who may know enough to get it wrong!)

    • A male’s X comes from his mother. I recommend Legacy Tree Genealogists for assistance. Tell them I referred you.

  10. I was born and raised in Robeson County, NC and identify as Lumbee and descend from the Locklear and Lowery family on my mother’s side and Locklear, Carter and Bell on my Father’s side of the family. I grew up in the community of Saddletree just outside of Lumberton, NC and after taking a DNA test I discovered I am related to most of the neighbors I grew up with. My DNA shows 14 different world regions (last week Ancestry actually listed 16 world regions) , my father shows 15 and my mother shows 10 compared to my husband which shows 6. What does it mean to show such diversity in your DNA and how common is this? What does it reveal about ancestors? Thank you

  11. Roberta,
    I enjoyed they way you wrote. I have tracked down living Mercers that are directly related, paper trail entact to David Mercer b 1784, son of Moses Mercer. The YDNA will be posted soon on Familytree.

  12. Roberta,

    I found your article very interesting since my family originated in the Baltic’s.

    I just wanted to see if you might be able to assist me in determining if I am possibly related to VK422.

    My confirmed Y-DNA is R-PH1800 looks to be downstream from VK422
    MY confirmed mtDNA is J1b1a1 looks to be upstream from VK422

    This is all new to me and would appreciate any insight at all

    Curious in Miami

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