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Biologist, 39, is named new Minnesota BCA lab director

  • April 17, 2013 - 9:00 PM

The state’s crime lab, which works with police and sheriffs’ offices on criminal cases, has a new chief at the helm: Catherine M. Knutson, a nationally known molecular biologist.

Knutson, 39, was selected as forensic services director for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension following a nationwide search. She will replace Frank Dolejsi, who will retire in June after 29 years at the BCA, including 15 as lab director.

Under Dolejsi’s tenure, the BCA became an internationally accredited lab, established its DNA section and introduced computers and robotics to its forensic testing processes, the agency said Tuesday.

Knutson, of Cambridge, Minn., has served as supervisor of the FBI Regional Mitochondrial DNA Program at the BCA lab, where she’s worked since 1999.

Said BCA Superintendent Wade Setter: “Leading a cutting-edge, accredited crime lab takes someone who not only possesses a superior scientific mind but is also a leader who can navigate scientific advancements and apply them to the search for evidentiary truth.”

Knutson holds a master of science degree from the University of Minnesota, a bachelor of science degree from the University of Illinois and certification from the American Board of Criminalistics as a fellow in molecular biology. In her most recent position with the BCA, her salary was just over $88,000, state records show.

She will take over the post on May 1, from Dolejsi, whose salary is $114,434.

JOY POWELL

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