Kristen Burke

Kristen retired from public service in 2022 and worked in Toxicology for over 24 years. She is a Toxicology Liaison for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Region 9 and supports Arizona, California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Territories.

Before her retirement, Kristen served five years as the Laboratory Director for the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services—Toxicology Laboratory. Her laboratory provided services to 46 of California’s 58 counties. Kristen’s expertise in toxicology not only involved directing the laboratory’s operations but also testified extensively on the effects of alcohol and drugs on human performance and in postmortem scenarios.

Furthermore, Kristen’s commitment to forensic sciences extended beyond her role as Laboratory Director. While employed at the Sacramento County Laboratory of Forensic Services, she actively contributed to public safety as a member of the Crime Lab Response Team and Clandestine Laboratory Response Team. Kristen’s multifaceted contributions underscore her dedication to the highest standards of forensic analysis and her hands-on involvement in addressing critical challenges in the field. She served as a Quality Manager/Supervisor and a Criminalist at the Sacramento County Crime Lab for over three years and 8.5 years in the toxicology unit. Further, she enriched her knowledge during a 7.5-year tenure in the private sector as a toxicologist.

A recognized authority in her field, Kristen is actively involved in influential organizations. She was a member of SAMHSA’s Federal Drug Testing Advisory Board, contributing her expertise to shape national policies. Additionally, she is a member of the National Safety Council’s Alcohol, Drug, and Impairment Division and on The Society of Forensic Toxicologists—Toxicology Resource Committee. She also served as the Committee Chair for the Technology, Research, and Data Subcommittee of California’s Impaired Driving Task Force.

Throughout her career, Kristen has been a dedicated educator, imparting her knowledge to prosecutors, law enforcement professionals, fellow toxicologists, and stakeholders in traffic safety. Her passion for education led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Micro/Molecular) from Portland State University in 1997, followed by an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC) in 2021. Currently pursuing an M.S. in the Ayurveda Integrative Medicine Program at Maharishi International University, Kristen aspires to continue her academic journey with a Doctorate in Physiology, focusing on researching the impact of pharmaceuticals on health.