My Ancestry

I always wanted to be a person of the world. I wanted my genes to be a mixture of everything. I was glad that I had a great-grandfather from Poland and a great-great-great-grandmother from France. I was also thrilled when my mom told me that her Asian students think she is one of theirs. So I decided to send my DNA to 23andMe and really see what I have.

To my surprise, my world is not as mixed as I expected: I am 99.5% European. My Asian part is minuscule: 0.2%, out of which only 0.1% is assigned as Yakut. My African part is also 0.2%.

My European part is a mixture of mostly eastern and northern European. I am 2.8% Ashkenazi.

My Ancestry

In addition to my genetic profile, 23andMe sent me the list of a thousand of my distant relatives. They also sent me a report about the most common last names among my relatives. The list starts with Cohen and continues with Levine, Levin, Goldberg, and Rubin.

You might be surprised by this list of Jewish names when I am only 2.8% Jewish. But the list is based on people who decided to send their DNA to 23andME and provided their last names. All my Russian relatives remained in Russia. Russia has its own company, I-gene, that provides a similar service, and the two databases are not shared.

Only my distant relatives who moved to the US and who are curious about their ancestry and who are willing to share their last names will appear on this list. So maybe this list is not surprising.



  1. Leo:

    Was that in standard or speculative mode?

  2. Tanya Khovanova:

    It was speculative mode (which is more interesting)

  3. Leo:

    It’s interesting that for you even the speculative mode couldn’t resolve about 20% of your European ancestry. For me it shows ~7% total of “Broadly” in speculative mode.

  4. Tanya Khovanova:

    Leo, I haven’t seen other people’s data, so I can’t comment. But I am surprised that they do not subdivided Eastern European.

  5. Ron Fischman:


    I’ve checked your site out since 2007, when I started as a math teacher. I’m now blogging about math and the brain for Is there a way to submit guest posts to you?


  6. Lilyan Kayser:

    Now that I’ve looked into various services for genetic testing, I may have to get that done. I’m curious more about my sex chromosomes. I already have a good idea where my family is from, but it would still be interesting. I was also looking into a service from the site promeathease which will analyze the dna data you’ve got from places like 23andme and use genetic research to explain what thousands of genes might increase risk for and so on. It looks pretty cool and cheap.

  7. Ron Fischman:

    Another thought, based on the part about the Jewish relatives. What a great opportunity for a discussion of selection bias in statistics! Not my long suit, but if I were preparing an optional student presentation (or a professional development presentation), I’d eat this up.

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