History in Our Genes: Human DNA

History in Our Genes: Human DNA April - June 2019, 2nd Floor South Terraces

On exhibition April 17- September 25, 2019, in the East & West Terraces, 2nd Floor South of the Pollak Library.

A scholarly interdisciplinary look at what DNA can tell us about human and family history.




This exhibition explains the biological concepts of human DNA, the patterns by which we inherit DNA from our ancestors, and the clues found in our DNA that allow scientists and researchers to plot the path of humanity over time and place.

These DNA tests, patterns, and clues are also applied by everyday people to learn more about their genetic heritage, by scholars and researchers to address historical mysteries, and now by law enforcement to solve criminal cold cases.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA testing companies have made this science available to the public since the early 2000s. Technological improvements have significantly reduced the cost of these tests. This price drop, combined with heavy marketing by some of the testing companies and growing public interest has led to an explosion in DTC genetic ancestry testing the past few years.

Join us on this look at how human DNA is being used to discover what our genes can tell us about human history and our ancestral history.


Visiting the Exhibit

  • Dates: April 17th - September 25th, 2019 (open 7 days as week, exlcuding library closure dates)
  • Hours: Open during library building hours.
  • Admission: Free and open to the public
  • Parking: $8.00 Day Pass (normal campus rules apply)

Learning Activities

  • Exhibit Multimedia Stations: Dig deeper into the concepts and case studies presented in this exhibit by visiting the Multimedia Stations inside the exhibit, or by accessing the multimedia library from your own computer or mobile device.
  • Exhibit Scavenger Hunt: Don't miss your chance to win a free autosomal DNA test! (details coming soon)


Program Series



Colleen Greene, Lead Curator & Exhibit Co-Designer

Colleen Greene, MLIS, is currently the Marketing Librarian for the Pollak Library, and is transitioning into the role of Digital Literacy Librarian. She is also an instructor for San Jose State University, for whom she teaches an online graduate-level genealogical research methods course through the School of Information. Colleen is a professional genealogist who regularly incorporates DNA into her family history research, teaching, and speaking.


Robert Tomaszewski, Curator & Science Editor

Robert Tomaszewski, Ph.D., MISt
, is the Science & Engineering Librarian at the Pollak Library.  Robert’s interests include outreaching to academic communities and the public through application of the fascinating world of the sciences and the future of technology.


Emily Pillai, Lead Graphic Designer & Exhibit Co-Designer

Emily Pillai is pursuing a BFA at CSUF, in the Graphic and Interactive Design Concentration. She will graduate in May 2019. Emily currently works as a Graphic Design Student Assistant with the Pollak Library Marketing Team, and previously worked as an Exhibits Student Assistant in the Pollak Library Exhibits Program. After graduation, Emily wants to venture into marketing design or packaging design.

Marissa Medeiros, Graphic Designer

Marissa Medeiros  is pursuing a BFA at CSUF, in the Graphic and Interactive Design Concentration. She anticipates graduating in 2020. Marissa currently works as a Graphic Design Student Assistant with the Pollak Library Marketing Team. She intends to go into editorial design, as well as creating illustrations and photography for magazines.


Karen Vasquez, Graphic Designer

Karen Vasquez graduated from CSUF in May 2018 with a BFA, Graphic and Interactive Design Concentration. She worked from January 2017 to June 2018 as a Graphic Design Student Assistant for the Pollak Library Marketing Team. She currently works as a graphic designer in the advertising industry.


Elaine Duong, Social Media Coordinator

Elaine Duong is pursuing a B.A. in Business Administration at CSUF, with a concentration in Marketing and Information Systems. She anticipates graduating in Spring 2021. Elaine works as the Marketing Student Assistant on the Pollak Library Marketing Team. She is interested in Digital Marketing, and hopes to utilize her combined skills and passion for creative marketing and data anlaytics.


The Installation Team


Trish Campbell, M.A., is the Exhibit Program Coordinator for the Pollak Library. She is also an instructor with the Department of Anthropology. Her installation team included: Exhibits Program Student Assistants: Emma O'Halloran, Brina España, and Luke Perez; and Exhibits Program Volunteer Matthew Gregory.

Jason Lorge, IT Consultant with the College of Communications, and student assistants Dhwanan Shelat, Dileep Dail, and Akash Shah handled multimedia installation.



The curators wish to thank the following people and organizations for their contributions and support (listed in alphabetic order):

  • AncestryDNA, and in particular Lorilee Wagner, Event Manager.
  • Emily Miller Bonney, Ph.D., Dean of the Pollak Library.
  • Family Tree DNA, and in particular Janine Cloud, Groups Project Manager and Event Coordinator.
  • George R. Miller, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology (Archaeology), and Director of the C.E. Smith Museum of Anthropology, California State University East Bay.
  • MyHeritage, and in particular Chris Darrington, Conference Event Manager.
  • Nikolas Nikolaidis, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology at California State University, Fullerton. 
  • Randy Whited, professional genealogist and genetic genealogy educator.

Exhibit Location


On exhibition in the  East & West Terraces, 2nd Floor South of the Pollak Library .