Online Seminars

SAA’s Online Seminar Series offers free and fee-based professional development opportunities designed for students and archaeologists seeking to enhance their skill sets or knowledge base.

One-hour seminars are free to SAA members and available to non-members for a fee. Knowledge Series and Rising Scholars seminars, free and exclusive to members, are unique opportunities within the Online Seminar Series to hear from prominent and upcoming archaeologists in our field. Two-hour seminars are available to SAA members and non-members for a fee. All lectures are delivered remotely through Zoom.

Please be aware when registering, all times are in the Eastern Time Zone.

For any questions related to the Online Seminar Series, please contact

Ancient DNA 101: What You Need to Know to Establish a Successful Project

Registration Closed!

Ancient DNA 101: What You Need to Know to Establish a Successful Project

When: December 03, 2019 12:00-2:00 PM

Duration: 2 hours

Certification: RPA-certified


Individual Registration: $99 for SAA members; $149 for non-members

Group Registration: $139 for SAA members; $189 for non-members

Courtney Hofman is an assistant professor of Anthropology and co-director at the University of Oklahoma's Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research. Dr. Hofman has conducted research that integrates interdisciplinary methods and fields, including genomics, ancient DNA, proteomics, and archaeology to explore human-environment interactions on two very different scales. First, she investigates human-wildlife interactions and their influence on changing environments over the past millennia to inform conservation decisions. Second, Dr. Hofman conducts research on the evolution of the human microbiome using dental calculus and paleofeces from archaeological contexts. Dr. Hofman completed her PhD at the University of Maryland in collaboration with the Center for Conservation Genomics at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Anthropology department at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where she is also a research associate.

Dr. Christina Warinner earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 2010 and received postdoctoral training in genomics and proteomics at the University of Zurich (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014). In 2014, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Anthropology and was awarded a Presidential Research Professorship at the University of Oklahoma (OU). In 2016, she was made W2 Group Leader of Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), and in 2018 she was promoted to University Professor in the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. Since 2019, she is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. Warinner specializes in biomolecular archaeology, with an emphasis on reconstructing the prehistory of human foods and the evolution of the microbiome. She is known for her pioneering work in ancient DNA and proteins research, which has contributed to the study of prehistoric human health, ancestral human oral and gut microbiota, the origins of dairying, and past human migrations. She is a 2012 TED Fellow, and her TED Talks on ancient dental calculus and the evolution of the human diet have been viewed more than 2 million times. In addition to her research, she is actively engaged in public outreach and created the Adventures in Archaeological Science coloring book, now available in thirty languages, including many indigenous and underrepresented languages.

Recent technological advances in genetics, such as high-throughput sequencing (HTS), have radically transformed ancient DNA (aDNA) research, making it more accessible and affordable for archaeologists than ever before. This seminar will provide a brief introduction to the field of paleogenomics, with an emphasis on the range of questions that can be addressed using current technologies, as well as some potential challenges. We will also explore how much an aDNA study actually costs and the role of student training in aDNA labs. Participants will learn how to identify questions that are amenable to genetic analysis and acquire strategies for how to set up successful collaborations with aDNA labs.
  1. Provide an update on major changes in ancient DNA technologies over the past 5 years.
  2. Highlight the range of questions that current ancient DNA methods can investigate.
  3. Address challenges in ancient DNA research, such as sample preservation and data authentication.
  4. Provide strategies for identifying potential research partners and establishing successful collaborations with aDNA labs.
  5. Discuss the structural differences between how research and training is conducted within the fields of archaeology and genetics, and how this impacts ancient DNA research.
  6. Establish the importance of hypothesis-driven research, and dispel the “Doing the DNA” myth.

Registration FAQ

There are many benefits to registering for an SAA online seminar:
  • Keep up to date on developments in the field and emerging topics with the help of a leading expert.
  • Advance in your job or career. Most SAA online seminars are RPA-certified. Registered Professional Archaeologists (RPA) or Registered Archaeologists (RA) can receive Continuing Professional Education credit on the certified seminars. One-hour seminars equate to one credit, and two-hour seminars equate to two credits.
  • Receive a certificate of completion from SAA.
Registration for one-hour online seminars opens approximately two weeks prior to the course date. Registration for two-hour online seminars opens as soon as the course description is posted. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis and will remain open until "seats" are filled or until the day before the seminar.

Even though the "room" is virtual, there are still limits to the number of connections we can support for an event. This is both because of our licensing with Zoom and SAA staff capacity. We want to ensure that we have the staff time to individually address questions, concerns, and technical problems for everyone registered.

One-hour seminars are currently limited to 100 registrations and two-hour seminars are limited to 50 registrations. We're experimenting with increasing these maximums as we're able without sacrificing quality.

For all seminars, register by clicking the button next to the seminar description. Be sure that you have completed your checkout and submitted your order. Even for free seminars, you will need to click "Proceed to Checkout" before your registration is complete. For screenshots and step-by-step instructions, review how to register for an online seminar [PDF 1.4 MB].

Primary registrants will receive a confirmation email immediately after successful registration, an invitation email to the online seminar about a week before the course date, and a reminder email the day before. (If you register within a week of the seminar, you should expect to receive the immediate confirmation and the reminder email the day before.) If you do not receive these, please contact right away.

Two or more individuals sharing a single computer connection in the same physical location qualify for the group rate. There is no maximum limit to how many people can be in a group. Only the primary registrant is required to be an SAA member to receive the SAA group-member pricing.

When registering groups, the primary registrant should submit the group registration form by close of business the day of the lecture. We regret that we cannot add group participants after the day of the seminar.

The primary registrant will receive the log in information to join the seminar. This should not be shared with the group participants to log in separately. Everyone registered in the group will receive course materials and a certificate of completion. RPAs and RAs will receive RPA credit.

Due to COVID-19, we recognize that gathering in groups to watch the seminar in the same physical location is not possible or advisable. Unfortunately, if your group is unable to watch the seminar together, only the primary registrant will be able to view the lecture live. However, for two-hour seminars, everyone in the group will have access to the lecture recording for two months. As always, they will still receive all of the course materials and certificates of completion. RPAs and RAs will still receive RPA credit. For one-hour seminars, the recording will be available only to SAA members in the Online Learning Archive.

Cancellations and refunds for fee-based online seminars are allowed prior to one week before the course date. If you paid a registration fee, your cancellation is subject to a $25 processing fee.

If you find you are unable to attend an online seminar after registering, even for a free seminar, please let us know at If the seminar is full, this will open a spot for someone on the waiting list.

The SAA Online Seminar Series uses the videoconferencing app Zoom. You will not need a Zoom account in order to join the seminar, and instructions for logging in on the day of the lecture will be emailed to each primary registrant. To ensure that you have everything you need for the seminar, you can try a Zoom test meeting.

Participants must have an Internet connection and speakers (either computer or phone) in order to view the lecture. Participants can ask questions of the instructor using a chat text box. Please log into the seminar 5-10 minutes before the start time in case you have technical problems.
Yes. All online seminars are recorded. Two-hour online seminar recordings are made available to those who registered (including everyone in a group) for two months after. Some of these recordings are also available for purchase later as a Seminar On-Demand.

One-hour online seminars are available for at least two years in the SAA Member Center's Online Learning Archive. This archive of over 20 free one-hour lectures and other professional development opportunities is available only to SAA members.
When you pay a registration fee for an SAA online seminar, you receive a virtual one or two-hour lecture from an expert in the field to guide you in professional development and new skills. You also receive a certificate of completion from SAA and Continuing Professional Education credits from the Register of Professional Archaeologists (if applicable). In addition, those funds are put to use to maintain and improve the program by:
  • Paying for the annual license for the online videoconferencing platform to hold the seminars
  • Compensating every online seminar instructor with an honorarium for their time and expertise
  • Keeping half of the online seminars free for SAA members
  • Maintaining an archive of past online seminar recordings, which SAA members can view in the Online Learning Archive
  • Supporting a full-time SAA Education and Outreach staff position to run the Online Seminar Series program