Ken Johnson DFIR Scholarship

Deadline for Submissions: June 25, 2021

Ken Johnson, husband of Jessica Towle Johnson and father of Savannah and Brady, was tragically taken from this life on April 4, 2016 at the age of 38.

Ken was an amazing husband and father. He was married to his best friend on February 19, 2000. His love for his family was his driving force behind all of his accomplishments and successes. One of his and his family's proudest moments was when he received his master's degree from Iowa State University in 2013.

Ken's passion for digital forensics led him to self-study Windows 8 internals and publish leading research on the topic. Even though Ken was relatively unknown in the Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) community at the time, he submitted to a Call For Presentations (CFP) and was accepted to present his findings at the 2012 SANS DFIR Summit.

Ken's networking at the DFIR Summit led to a career at KPMG, LLP, where he was a vital part of the response team for many high-profile computer forensic and incident response engagements. Ken enjoyed working with his team, and in the process became friends with many of his colleagues.

Over time, Ken's network expanded to the greater DFIR community, where he enjoyed sharing and receiving knowledge amongst the industry. He attended and spoke at many conferences across the country and helped organize BSides Iowa at Iowa State. Ken also blogged about his journey through his profession; one of Ken's most personal blog posts discusses decisions he made in his life to step out of his comfort zone and follow his dream in DFIR, all while thanking those closest to him for their support.

In memory of Ken Johnson, the SANS Institute and KPMG LLP created a scholarship that was introduced at the SANS DFIR Summit in June 2016 and will be awarded annually.


About the Scholarship

Deadline for Submissions: June 25, 2021 

Thank you to those who participated!

The winner will be notified Friday, July 2, 2021. We will announce the winner at the Summit.

The objective of the scholarship is to foster professional development and to encourage and mentor a dedicated student showing genuine promise in the DFIR field. This scholarship will provide:

  • Two SANS DFIR classes in any format (furnished by SANS and KPMG LLP)
  • Mentoring from two professionals working in the DFIR field 
  • Consideration for an internship


Undergraduate (junior or senior year) or graduate students enrolled full-time in a degree program at an accredited college or university in the U.S. (Full-time is defined as twelve credit hours per semester for undergraduate students and nine credit hours for graduate students.) Preference will be given to students enrolled in computer science, engineering, or other technology-related degree programs, but students earning degrees in other fields of study are encouraged to apply. US citizenship is not a requirement.


Application Submission

  • Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis
  • One scholarship will be awarded annually at the DFIR Summit in July.
  • Complete scholarship submissions by filling out the form below by June 25th 2021.
  • Winner will be notified by July 2nd, 2021