Ken Johnson DFIR Scholarship

Ken Johnson, husband of Jessica and father of Savannah and Brady, was tragically taken from this life on April 4, 2016 at the age of 38. He will always be remembered as an amazing husband, father, and member of the DFIR Community. His family was the driving force behind his accomplishments, including obtaining 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. He was accepted to present his findings at the 2012 SANS DFIR Summit, which led to a career at KPMG LLP. Ken quickly became a vital part of the response team for many high-profile computer forensic and incident response engagements. Ken enjoyed working with his team and became friends with many of his colleagues.

Over time, Ken’s network expanded to the greater DFIR community, where he enjoyed sharing 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.

At the 2016 SANS DFIR Summit, the SANS Institute and KPMG LLP announced a scholarship in Ken’s honor. This annual scholarship carries on Ken’s memory and passion for those beginning their career in digital forensics and incident response.


About the Scholarship

The objective of the Ken Johnson Scholarship is to:

  • Foster growth for someone beginning their career in digital forensics and incident response,
  • Allow the individual to hone their skills via SANS professional training, and 
  • To encourage and mentor a dedicated student showing genuine promise in the DFIR field.

This annual scholarship will provide:

  • Two SANS DFIR classes in any format (contributed by SANS and KPMG LLP)
    • Important Notes: 
      • Courses should be picked from the SANS DFIR Curriculum Only which includes all courses starting with the letters "FOR"
      • Courses should be taken within one year from the scholarship winner announcement.
  • Mentoring from two DFIR coaches (Matt Bromiley and David Nides)
  • Consideration for an internship
  • One DFIR Summit seat at the in-person event in Austin, TX



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.

You may be a citizen of any country (U.S. citizenship is not required).


Application Submission

  • Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis
  • One scholarship will be awarded annually at the DFIR Summit in August.
  • Complete scholarship submissions by filling out the form below

Deadline for submissions: July 10th, 2023
The awardee will be notified before July 21st, 2023 and will be publicly announced at the 2023 DFIR Summit.