About Me

What I care most about is family. Maybe that’s why I’m so interested in genealogy. I also take pride in having a lifestyle in which I usually walk or bicycle almost everywhere I go. I enjoy puzzles, travel, science, news, and physical activity, but have sworn off endurance training.

I love both traditional genealogy and genetic genealogy research. I prefer diving into French, British, Irish, and Wallonie-Belgian records, but of course can search U.S. records, too. In a few minutes I’ve smashed through people’s long-standing brick walls. I’ve helped people find their birth parents, and I’ve provided custom analyses to help researchers working on very difficult cases. But I’m more useful when I’m making new scientific discoveries and developing tools that will help all genetic genealogists. Just look at all of the scientific discoveries that were made in 2021 alone. One has to take advantage of these discoveries and tools in order to be an advanced genetic genealogist.

Education:

B.S. Applied Mathematics

M.S. Geophysics/Geological Oceanography

Two additional years of PhD-level research in physical oceanography running ocean climate models (ROMS)

Following that, two additional years of PhD-level research in modeling and simulation

Publications:


Nicholson, B. (2022), Orogen: Advanced relationship predictions for genetic genealogy, Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series, ISSN 1875-1768, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigss.2022.09.011.

Darby, D. A., Myers, W., Herman, S., and Nicholson, B. (2015), Chemical fingerprinting, a precise and efficient method to determine the source of sediments, Jour. Sed. Res., v. 85, 247–253. 

Nicholson, B. and Georgen, J. (2013), Controls on crustal accretion along the back-arc East Scotia Ridge: Constraints from bathymetry and gravity data, Mar. Geophys. Res., 34(1), 45–58, doi:10.1007/s11001-013-9172-x.

Some of my favorite books:

Genome, by Matt Ridley, 1999. I read this not long after it came out, taking a short break from books about paleoanthropology. It ignited my passion for learning about genetics. I think it held the top spot for accessible and fascinating books on genetics for almost two decades. Some of the information is outdated now, but Genome is still a must-read. I’d recommend reading some more recent books first. Once you have an understanding of genetics I think you’ll recognize exactly what Genome brings to the table.

Mathematics in Nature, by John Adam, 2003. The only book pictured above that isn’t about genetics. I learned a whole lot from this book. I discovered that pretty much anything in nature can be described with mathematics and can be modeled simply, just like my simple but realistic models of shared DNA. I’ve also had the privilege of taking courses taught by Dr. Adam: Biology in Nature, which was full of fun stuff like differential equations, and Mathematics in Nature. He’s also written Guesstimation and A Mathematical Nature Walk.

The Society of Genes, by Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher, 2016. This is the first book I’d recommend for anyone who wants to learn about genetics. It’s short and packed with useful information. I was particularly interested in their descriptions of how cancer works, how immune systems work, information about viruses and bacteria, and how almost all of human diversity is contained within the genomes of Sub-Saharan Africans. There’s hardly a human gene in the world that can’t be found in Africa. And a Korean and a German are more alike than two randomly selected people from Sub-Saharan Africa. I make sure to read this book more than once per year.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, by Adam Rutherford. This book’s title makes a big claim, perhaps one that’s impossible to live up to, but the book doesn’t disappoint. I recommend this alongside The Society of Genes as the first two to read if you’re interested in human genetics. This one is much longer, but more readable for non-scientists.

Who We Are and How We Got Here, by David Reich, 2018. This is the most informative book I’ve ever read about the history of human population movements. The subject is fairly technical, but the book is somehow very accessible. I think population genetics is the most interesting field in science. I recommend reading this book third, after the two directly above.

When Humans Nearly Vanished, by Donald Prothero, 2018. Mixing my two favorite broad categories of science: geology and genetics. It’s hard to set down. I recommend reading this book more than once.

A Crack in the Edge of the World and The Map That Changed the World, by Simon Winchester. (Not pictured.) Mr. Winchester has written a lot of books and I’m sure that I need to read more of them, but I can attest that these two geology books are absolutely phenomenal. You’ll learn about a whole lot more than just geology. I’m not sure how he weaves it all in in a natural way, but you won’t even notice it’s happening until it’s too late—his brilliance will rub off on you.