Deadline Extended to March 8: ‘Who Am I?’ DNA Project Call for Applications

By Luisa Buttler, Published: February 25, 2019

Deadline Extended to March 8: ‘Who Am I?’ DNA Project Call for Applications

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – “There is a comfort in knowing who you are, being able to speak to who you are, and in feeling whole,” said Dr. Amy Aldridge Sanford, Professor of Communication and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi students, staff, and faculty are invited to apply for the “Who Am I?” DNA Project. The study, led by Sanford and jointly sponsored by members of Island University’s Black History Month Committee and the Division of Academic Affairs, seeks to explore individual identity when contrasted with family oral tradition. The deadline to apply for the “Who Am I?” DNA Project is Friday, March 8. For more information, email dnaproject@tamucc.edu.

For the 12 participants chosen for the 10-month-long study, initial months will include journaling and video diaries of their known family history. The pivot point is a DNA test. Once study participants have cognitively analyzed their DNA, researchers will attempt to find out if this fresh flood of scientific information alters a person’s individual narrative – in essence, does it change conversations about cultural makeup, identity, and family history?

Member of the Black History Month Committee participating as researchers include:

  • Deshawna Colvin – Project GRAD Assistant Director and A&M-Corpus Christi Education Master’s student
  • Patricia L. Hernandez – Student Success Librarian
  • Dr. Carmen Tejeda-Delgado – Curriculum, Instruction and Learning Sciences Associate Professor and Director of Field Experiences
  • Delaney Vampran-Foster – Assistant Director for Engagement Initiatives 
  • Angela Walker – Associate Dean of Students

Besides being an A&M-Corpus Christi student, staff, or faculty, study participants must be at least 18 years old and must have never had a DNA test. Participants may identify as any race or ethnicity and must be available through mid-December 2019.

“This is the first research project of this kind at A&M-Corpus Christi, and I’m excited to learn the DNA results of the participants and hear their stories,” said Walker. “Through this DNA Project, I truly believe we all will learn that we are more connected than previously thought.”

Sanford, who has had two DNA tests of her own, says it’s hard to predict what a DNA test will uncover, so she encourages study participants to “be ready” for anything, especially for conflict between oral family history and scientific DNA results.

“My DNA tests changed me, and I’ve seen it change other people,” Sanford said. “In my experience, it linked me to more than 60 first cousins that I didn’t know.”

While the identity of study participants will not be publically revealed by the research team, self-identified participants will be welcome to share their stories during Black History Month 2020.

“I hope this project will be the beginning of engaging in healthy conversations about racial and ethnic identity in the future and how we can demolish those things that divide us,” said Walker.

The deadline to apply for the “Who Am I?” DNA Project is Friday, March 8. For more information, email dnaproject@tamucc.edu. 

"It’s exciting to take what I’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to the real-world. But for me, the most important piece of this project is starting conversations about what is going on in our society. We are all interconnected and it’s ok to cross over into someone else’s lane to find out their story. Don’t judge a book by its cover – we need to love our neighbor." - Deshawna Colvin

"Society prompts us with identifying our racial heritage with check boxes on a demographic form, but also with how we experience daily life. This study, however, adds that extra element of scientific proof. What do our genetics have to say about who we are?" - Patricia L. Hernandez

"We hope this DNA Project will help increase people’s “diversity IQ.” Perhaps it is in realizing how much we are alike that we begin to understand how diversity is our personal currency, which can serve to enrich one another’s lives." - Dr. Carmen Tejeda-Delgado

"People are complicated, and understanding even a small part of yourself better allows for a more full and rich life. Ultimately what I believe people will find is that they are so much more than what their genetics make them, and that is where the fun is!" - Delaney Vampran-Foster