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. Knowledge Series seminars, also free to members, are unique opportunities within the Online Seminar Series to hear from some of the most prominent 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 Information

When Registration Opens and Closes

Registration for free online seminars opens approximately two weeks prior to the course date. Registration for fee-based 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 one week before the seminar.

How to Register

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 registration and an invitation email to the online seminar about a week before the course date. If you do not receive these, please contact right away.

Group Registrations

Two or more individuals sharing a single computer connection or "seat" qualify for the group rate. 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 names and email addresses of each group participant in a spreadsheet before the course date to This is to ensure that all participants receive a certificate of completion and RPA credit (if applicable). We regret that we cannot add group participants after the seminar. Only registered participants will receive certificates of completion.

Cancellations and Refunds

Cancellations and refunds for fee-based online seminars are allowed prior to one week before the course date. All cancellations are subject to a $25 processing fee.

If you find you are unable to attend a free online seminar after registering, please let us know at

Using Zoom

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.

Online Seminar Recordings

All online seminars are recorded. Fee-based online seminar recordings are made available to those who registered (including everyone in a group) for two months after. Knowledge Series seminars and other free seminars are available in the Member Center's Online Seminar Archive. The Archive is available only to SAA members.