Apologies for the length, but I'm going to reply to a number of points from above in this one post.
@mtdna: I think, if you read through the entire blogpost, you'll have seen that my dismissive* attitude toward the project is actually because I tend not to support vague research aims. I am not against genome sequencing, I'm not even against sequencing Richard III's genome, but I think that it should only be done when there are clear research questions that sequencing can assist in answering. If in the process they discover unexpected, but interesting results, that is great. Of course so much of what we know is actually discovered unintentionally. But completely speculative analysis 'just because we can' is not something I can get behind. It is also a pretty big claim (and incorrect) that he'll be the first 'known ancient individual' to be sequenced.
Now, I am sure they actually do have clear research aims and specific research questions (they had to apply for their grants). But barely anyone knows what they are - either in the public or academic community (other than of course the research team). When you are involved in a research project worth £100,000, much of it from publicly funded organisations, I think there is a certain responsibility or even obligation to share this information. This should especially be a priority if one of the main purposes of this research project is to capture the public imagination with the interest in Richard III and use it to demonstrate the incredible processes of archaeology and aDNA analysis (and more). Heck, even PhD students like myself make our abstracts publicly available while we're researching.
Speaking of my PhD, it's actually going very well, thank you for asking. I submitted my penultimate progress report this week and my supervisors and advisor are very happy with my progress. I have some very interesting results (even if they weren't what I expected) and I am very keen to share these with people - both within and outside of the academic community. I'd be very happy to talk about it someday if you like. I'm researching new methodologies in palaeodemography - in order to assess attritional and catastrophic assemblages (at the moment specifically with regards to plague burials, but I am also involved in other projects applying this methodology to other scenarios).
My position in the above blogpost has very little to do with the current state of my PhD progress or where I am in my timeline of completion. There are others who share this option - and some of them even have PhDs... while others (gasp) aren't even researchers or academics! It is incredibly condescending to suggest that my opinions and views aren't valid simply because I haven't finished my PhD yet.
*If you read the notes below the main body of the post you'll see that I'm not actually entirely dismissive or close-minded to this specific project and state that perhaps I should be patient. I wrote this blogpost because I know there are others with similar opinions to mine and those with opposing views and I wanted to engage in a discussion and debate. I consider this to be a success, as there have been numerous exchanges of points across various platforms since I posted it up.
@chgoliz: I don't think we should be doing full genome sequencing on every individual. There are still 1000s (if not tens of 1000s) of individuals who have been excavated and remain unassessed in storage - even at the most basic level of information (age, sex, stature, pathology, etc). I'm not
saying don't do genome sequencing, I'm just saying make sure there is a justifiable reason for doing it. As you said, it is expensive - but it is getting less expensive all the time. I imagine it's only going to become a more common component of research projects in the future. But personally, I'd like to know more about the 1000s of individuals who may or may not have (in)famous histories associated with them. They can still tell us a great deal of information and shouldn't be backbenched simply because they're not kings. They don't grab the public's imagination? Well then we need to take the time to ineract with people and show them exactly why these individuals are just as interesting.
@crenquis: It's true, the ability to sequence a living relative makes this project interesting (and while not entirely unique, more unusual). I'll admit that I'm skeptical of the amount of information that will be gained (especially as it is 17 generations down the matrilineal line) but there are certainly some aspects which may prove useful for further or future studies. One area that is very interesting is that related to scoliosis, as recent (modern) DNA analysis suggest there are specific genetic markers that can indicated the potential severity of the condition, post-diagnosis. But... (and this is one of my major gripes) we don't actually know what they are going to be looking at once they sequence the samples.
@Woodchuck45 / @thecorrectline: Yeah, unfortunately it is a click bait headline. Perhaps I should have edited this in my post (especially given my past record for publicly shaming click bait headlines). I linked to the I09 post opposed to Medium, because while the headline is sensationalist it gives a pretty good synopsis of the piece - and if people wanted to read further they could go to the original from there. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn't gone straight to the source...