Degree helps scientist cut turnaround time for forensic DNA


Kristina-HoffmanMARYSVILLE, Wash. – Crime-scene DNA is processed three weeks faster at a state forensic laboratory thanks to internship work by recent Washington State University graduate Kristina Hoffman.

A forensic scientist with the Washington State Patrol, she applied “lean” business management practices that resulted in a 26 percent increase in productivity, $5,200 savings on overtime pay and reduction in the average turnaround time for processing DNA samples from 93 days to 71.

Hoffman has worked for the patrol’s crime laboratory division since 2007. Her 2015 internship was part of her professional science master’s (PSM) degree in molecular biosciences from WSU, which she completed in December 2015. The internship was conducted at the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory in Marysville.

Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory.

“The importance and impact of Kristina’s internship are immediately translatable to the public at large,” said Norah McCabe, director of the degree program. “A DNA sample could help identify a serial criminal who would be arrested three weeks sooner, thus making communities safer.

“Alternatively, if you were a suspect and you were in jail awaiting DNA analysis, your time in jail would be shortened by more than three weeks (assuming you were not guilty),” she said.

For her internship, Hoffman sought to reduce the delay in DNA sample processing by applying the principles of lean management, which systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality.

She enrolled in Lean Agility, one of the WSU professional science master’s courses. At Marysville, she incorporated lean principles into various aspects of the workflow, from DNA case assignment to sample analysis to sample result reporting.

In the Lean Agility class, students learn how to minimize problems and maximize productivity.
They use statistical and logical techniques to identify and deliver improvements in production and operations management.

When it began in 2010, WSU’s professional science master’s in molecular biosciences was the first and only PSM degree offered in the state. The university now also offers the degree in electrical power engineering. Both can be completed online or with some courses at a WSU campus.

Learn more about the professional science master’s degree in molecular biosciences at’s-degree. Learn more about the WSU School of Molecular Biosciences at



Kristina Hoffman, Washington State Patrol Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, 360-654-1197,
Norah McCabe, WSU director of the PSM degree in molecular biosciences, 509-335-1134,
Charlie Powell, WSU College of Veterinary Medicine public information officer, call or text 509-595-2017,



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