Genetics and ArchAeology - DNA research CHANGING human history

UChicago researchers - John Novembre, Professor of Human Genetics; David Schloen, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology; and Sandra Schloen, Manager of the OCHRE Data Service - will discuss the exciting developments in DNA research that are changing our understanding of human history and the rise of civilization in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East in biblical times.

New methods of recovering ancient DNA from human remains and sequencing their genomes have yielded unprecedented evidence of the movement and mixing of people in the distant past and how this relates to cultural changes long studied by archaeologists. This research is data-intensive and relies on innovative computational and statistical methods. UChicago is a leader in the computational aspects of this research and a collaboration is emerging between UChicago geneticists and archaeologists to manage and analyze data concerning thousands of ancient genomes to answer questions about the ancient origins of our modern world.

Speaker Profiles


david-schloen--april-2018--photo-credit---erielle-bakkum-----taken-by-neubauer-collegiumDavid Schloen is a professor in the University of Chicago’s world-renowned Oriental Institute and in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the College. He is also the Director of UChicago’s new M.A. Program in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History. He specializes in the archaeology and history of the Eastern Mediterranean region during the Bronze and Iron Ages (3500-300 BC). Over the past 30 years has been conducting annual archaeological excavations in the Middle East, most recently at the site of Tell Keisan near Haifa in Israel and at Zincirli in the Gaziantep province of southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border. He started out as a computer science major and worked as a software developer before entering academia. This led him to develop an innovative online platform for integrating, analyzing, and publishing archaeological and historical data in collaboration with Sandra Schloen, who wrote the software and supervises technical support and training for researchers who use this online platform, called OCHRE (Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment).



john_novembreJohn Novembre is a researcher and professor with the Department of Human Genetics for the Graduate Programs at UChicago Biosciences. The Novembre research group uses computational tools to study genetic diversity in natural populations. Their goal is to develop widely used statistical methods for intelligently extracting information from large-scale genomic data with the aim to improve understanding of: (1) basic genomic biology, (2) the biology of heritable disease traits, (3) the genetic basis of evolutionary processes, and (4) the history and evolution of various species, especially humans. From a disciplinary perspective, most of the ideas the Novembre research group uses are from theoretical population genetics, statistical genetics, and computational statistics. Much of their work is invigorated by addressing data from emerging genotyping and sequencing technologies applied to large or particularly interesting population samples.

For more information on John Novembre’s work with several different Biosciences Graduate Program Associations and details on his research and publications, please visit the Faculty page for the Graduate Programs at UChicago Biosciences.   



sandra_schloenSandra Schloen is a software engineer and the head of the OCHRE Data Service at the University of Chicago. She has a degree in computer science and a graduate degree in education. She has worked professionally as a software developer since the 1980s in both business and academic settings, with an emphasis on complex database systems and scholarly research applications.

She develops software in close consultation with academic projects that span a wide range of fields.


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5:45 pm ET “check in” (Zoom link opens for login)

6:00-7:30 pm Virtual Progam with Q&A


6:00PM - 7:30PM Wed 26 Aug 2020 ( Timezone: Eastern )

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Andrew Peters, MBA'11