Faces of NextGen: Meet Lisa Chan

Lisa ChanLisa Chan, 40, Washington

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Curious. Independent. Dog lover. Transgendered. Musical.

Why genealogy? I love solving puzzles, a good mystery, the natural world, genetics, history, photography, anthropology, migration stories, and social and civil justice. Genealogy has it all!

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? Just one?

A fourth great grand uncle was the reason an entire village in Niedersachsen, Germany practically emptied due to a mass migration to Illinois inspired by his letter home. It had been copied 1,500 times and then distributed far and wide. Hundreds of Ostfriesen families got their good start in Illinois based on his detailed instructions for success.

With the help of genetic genealogy and segment analysis, I was able to solve a 7 decade-old brick wall and reconnect more than twenty curious descendants and project participants to colonial roots in Maryland in the 1700s.

After participating in a DNA test for a medical study, I discovered that I am the non-paternity-event in my generation. With the help of genetic genealogy and caring “Search Angels,” I have been reconnected with my paternal family. We are excited to get to know one another. It turns out my NEW GRANNY is a genealogy nut too.

What are you working on this week? I just discovered a cluster of shared segments associated with lots of recent Irish surnames and locations. It’s exciting because my admixture reports suggest a decent portion of Irish descent, but the only known Irish patriarch was from the late 1700s.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Sleep on it.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? Time travel, of course!

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? Playing the drums or walking our dogs. I love percussion and engage in music therapy to address a wide variety of emotional and physical health needs. Did you know that doing anything percussive helps to regulate digestion?! Feeling anxious? Sing a song and clap your hands. Can’t sleep? Forget counting sheep, count measures instead.

Anything else you’d like to share? I’d love to see the disregard for adoptees and persons with unknown paternity decreased in the genealogical community overall. We’re the fastest growing demographic in genealogy today. We comprise the majority of young genealogists entering the hobby. We spend a lot of money – testing at each of the big three and purchasing genetic genealogy workshops. We are eager to help others with triangulation projects, are generous with what we do know, and our motivation to get to the truth is unparalleled. It would be really great if we had more allies among the full-tree’d who could advocate for embracing us.

The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen will showcase a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.