Journalist in Residence

I am a Multi. An iBook about human genetic ancestry.

PI(s): Lynn L Fellman (Fellman Studio Inc.)
Start Date: 8-Jul-2013
End Date: 27-Sep-2013

I am a Multi.
What’s that? A person with mixed ancestry. Looking at me, it’s hard to guess my heritage.

I am new.
Like everyone, I have one genome from Mom and one from Dad. I’m especially diverse because my parents are from different, distant geographic locations.

I am ancient.
I don’t look old! I have markers in my DNA conserved through many generations through deep time and across continents that connects me to my ancestors.

This text begins a story about evolutionary science and how it is expanding our ideas about who we are. Blending narration, digital paintings, and haiku-like text, the presentation appeals to both parents and their children. The story is a prototype for an iBook with each page designed for the horizontal format and luminosity of electronic tablets.

Who are the Multis? They are people with mixed, diverse ancestry with parents who came from geographically distant locations. Multis are uniquely prevalent in the United States, with President Obama the familiar example.

In contrast, our species has very small amounts of genetic variation. The juxtaposition of individual variation to homogeneity of a group is one of the ideas woven through the story.

With whole genome sequencing, our gene stories will (gradually) become understood. If genetic ancestry does expand self-perception, will we adopt new cultural identities based on ancestral mixtures?

This project presents answers and explores innovative ways to encourage curiosity and wonder in our own multifaceted ancestry while appreciating the beautiful complexity of human evolution.