Sealaska Heritage

NEWS_SHI to sponsor lecture on rapidly growing field of paleogenomics

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Free event to be offered virtually

Jan. 11, 2021

(About the Lecturer) (Flyer)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) will sponsor a free lecture this Thursday on the rapidly growing field of paleogenomics, an area of science based on the reconstruction and analysis of genomic information in ancient or extinct populations.

The lecture, Paleogenomics, Community Engagement and Evolutionary Histories of Indigenous peoples of Southeast Alaska and North Coast of British Columbia, will be given by Dr. Ripan S. Malhi, a molecular anthropologist who collaborates with Indigenous communities to study the evolutionary histories of Indigenous peoples of North America.

Dr. Malhi, in partnership with SHI, the Hoonah Indian Association and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, is currently leading a study exploring the potential biological impact of historical trauma in Alaska Native peoples and how participation in cultural events may mediate this potential impact.

The paleogenomics field is rapidly growing due to recent advances in genomic technologies and analyses. In addition, the field has recently taken ethical steps to engage linked Indigenous communities in the research process to become more aware of the social implications of the work, Dr. Malhi wrote.

“In this presentation, I will discuss our research program on paleogenomics in partnership with Indigenous communities in Southeast Alaska and North Coast of British Columbia to address questions of history from an evolutionary viewpoint,” he wrote.

Specifically, Dr. Malhi will focus on his team’s efforts to engage Indigenous community members and students in genomic research using community-based methods and the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Geomics (SING) Program; the impacts of European colonization on the genomes of Indigenous peoples as a result of changing environments after European contact; and questions related to the early peoples of the Americas.

The talk, which is scheduled at noon on Thursday, Jan. 14, is part of a lecture series this month that explores the origins and earliest presence of Indigenous populations and cultures in Southeast Alaska from traditional knowledge and various scientific perspectives.

All lectures will be live streamed at 12 pm Alaska time on SHI’s YouTube channel, and available for viewing on YouTube any time after the livestream (no account required). This program is provided under the Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska Schools (PITAAS) program and funded by the Alaska Native Education Program. The series is also offered as a one-credit course through the University of Alaska Southeast. Contact for more information.

About the Lecturer

Dr. Ripan S. Malhi is Richard and Margaret Romano Professor in the Department of Anthropology, School of Integrative Biology, American Indian Studies program and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He earned his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at UC Davis and then completed a postdoc in the Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan Medical School. Prior to starting at the University of Illinois, Dr. Malhi co-founded a biotechnology company, called Trace Genetics, Inc., in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a molecular anthropologist who collaborates with Indigenous communities to study the evolutionary histories of Indigenous peoples of North America. Dr. Malhi co-directs the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING), an NIH-funded program for Indigenous community members to learn innovative concepts and methods at the cross section of indigeneity and genomics. He is also the co-director of the IDEAS (Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences) program and executive editor of the journal Human Biology.  

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,