The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey

Submitted by Andy Anderson

A Five College GIS Day Presentation by

Dr. Spencer Wells

The Genographic Project
The National Geographic Society

Logo for National Geographic Live!


Spencer Wells takes a DNA sample in Chad.
Photo Credit: David Evans

About sixty thousand years ago in Africa, a man was born with a unique genetic makeup that is now shared by every person living today.

As our ancestors spread out across the globe, additional small variations in their DNA have allowed researchers to trace their migration. Using cutting-edge genetic research informed by archaeology, linguistics, and climatology, Spencer Wells has documented this incredible journey in an award-winning book and a video that aired on PBS and the National Geographic Channel. His work has helped expand public understanding of biology, anthropology, and the science of evolution, as well as an awareness of human commonality. In this intriguing and accessible presentation, Wells will share his latest discoveries and outline plans for future research.

Spencer Wells is an Explorer-in-Residence and a Fellow of the National Geographic Society. He has been studying genomic diversity in indigenous populations and unraveling age-old mysteries about early human migration since 1994. His field studies began in earnest in 1996 with his survey of Central Asia. In 1998 Wells and his colleagues expanded their study to include some 25,000 miles of Asia, and subsequently across the globe. His landmark research findings led to advances in the understanding of the male Y chromosome and its ability to trace ancestral human migration. Wells is also the Project Director of The Genographic Project, an ambitious effort to collect DNA samples from 100,000 people around the globe and fill in the details of the "Map of Us All". He is the recipient of numerous scientific awards, grants, and fellowships.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006, 7:30 PM

Amherst College, Merrill Science Center, Lecture Hall 1

72° 30' 56" W, 42° 22' 13" N: General directions and maps

Free and open to the public.

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