Wednesday Geek Woman: Colleen Fitzpatrick, forensic genealogist

This is a guest post by Shauna. Shauna is a psychologist, programmer, writer and blogger.

Colleen Fitzpatrick is a forensic genealogist: she uses clues from DNA analysis, photos, fingerprints, and family history to identify unknown persons. One of the leading lights in a field that’s booming due to new interest in genealogy and new advances in genetic techniques, she’s been involved in a number of high profile cases. Among these are the case of the Unknown Child, a two year old boy whose body was found days after the sinking of the Titanic and buried in Nova Scotia along with a monument to all the young children lost in the disaster. Nearly a hundred years later, Fitzpatrick’s painstaking research identified the child as Sidney Leslie Goodwin, the youngest of eight children, none of whom survived the disaster.

Fitzpatrick was also involved in the identification of remains from a 1948 flight crash in Alaska. She has also tracked down a relative of Fred Noonan, Amelia Earhart’s navigator, whose DNA will be able to provide confirmation of Noonan’s identity, if his body is ever found. Although Fitzpatrick seems drawn to famous cases—and who wouldn’t be?—she spends much of her time working with amateur genealogists, teaching people techniques for solving their own family mysteries. She’s published three books about forensic genealogy, and has started the Fitzpatrick DNA Study, an attempt to find and unite descendants of the Fitzpatrick clan.

She also founded a high-tech company out of her garage and worked on optics for the now-cancelled NASA mission to Jupiter. She’s multi-lingual. She lives with a pet tortoise named Thing One. She’s just neat.

Fitzpatrick’s personal website
Wikipedia: Colleen Fitzpatrick
Interview with the Genetic Genealogist

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