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January 30, 2020 - The effect that the growing interest in genetic ancestry exploration through the availability of home kits has had on racial and ethnic identity will be the topic of the Annual Science and Humanity Lecture at King’s College. The presentation by Wendy D. Roth, Ph. D., associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18, in the Burke Auditorium of the McGowan School of Business, located on the corner of N. River and W. Jackson streets in Wilkes-Barre.

In recent years, more than 26 million tests have been sold as people try to learn what their genes can tell them about their origins. Many believe these tests can tell them their true race or ethnicity. Roth will explore questions related to the boom in genetic testing including whether the tests results are an accurate record of a person’s race and ethnicity and whether the results will lead test-takers to adopt new racial and ethnic identities based on genetic knowledge.

Roth’s original research includes more than 100 qualitative interviews with Caucasian, African American, Latino, Asian, and Native American test-takers in the United States. Her findings have shown that people pick and choose new identities they like from their test results, rather than deferring fully to the scientific authority of the tests.

Roth earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a master’s from Oxford University and a doctorate from Harvard University.  She is the Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and is the author of the book “Race Migrations: Latinos and the Cultural Transformation of Race.”

The Burke Auditorium is located in the William G. McGowan School of Business, N. River and W. Union streets, Wilkes-Barre.  Parking will be available in on-campus lots. For more information, please contact Dr. Bernard Prusak, director, McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, at (570) 208-5900, ext. 5689.