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Johnson Takes Lead on Cyber Security Effort

Grant Johnson has a desire to help protect the nation’s critical energy infrastructure. Now, as the new leader of Ames Laboratory’s participation in the Cyber Fed Model (CFM) program, he’s in a prime position to do so.

The CFM project is a cyber threat indicator sharing, analysis, and response framework developed by the Department of Energy to support threat information sharing within the US Government and the Energy Sector.

Grant Johnson is the new Cyber Security Research Manager at Ames Laboratory.

Johnson is the Cyber Security Research Manager, with responsibilities that include technical leadership, staff oversight, and project finances. He collaborates with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), DOE, and external entities on this research and serves on the leadership team with ANL for the program. Johnson began working at the Ames Laboratory in February 2017.

“I hope to contribute leadership to the development and maintenance of the CFM threat indicator sharing application by continuing to improve its performance and effectiveness in real-time protection of energy infrastructure assets and DOE systems,” Johnson said. He adds that he will work to improve the resiliency of industrial controls and cyber physical systems.

Johnson helps to collaborate within the DOE as well as with external organizations in the energy sector.  The CFM system is also used by the Ames Laboratory Information Systems (IS) department and helps to contribute to its mission of protecting data and availability of systems for employees.

Before coming the Ames Laboratory, Johnson worked in various roles in software development at United Technologies Corp. Aerospace Systems in Burnsville, Minn., for over 10 years. With this extensive experience in the aerospace industry, Johnson feels ready for his new role.

“I was able to help design cyber security protections and work directly with the major airline equipment manufacturers on the security life cycle,” he explained. “This exposure to defining cyber security processes and designs within United Technologies helped me to recognize this opportunity with Ames Laboratory as aligning with my personal interests and desire for continual learning.”

Johnson said his graduate studies also helped prepare him for his work at the Ames Laboratory. For his M.S. degree in technology management from the University of St. Thomas, he took business classes such as Project Management, Accounting, and Intellectual Property, and combined it with a technical curriculum such as power generation from renewable energy sources. “I felt it fit with my technical strengths and interests while providing aptitude in business and leadership,” Johnson said.

The position is a somewhat of a homecoming for Johnson. He grew up in Guthrie Center, Iowa, a small town in west central Iowa, and attended Iowa State. He graduated with a degree in computer engineering in 2006. “I enjoyed developing software optimized from a user perspective and the challenge of learning the intricacies of hardware or communication bus specifications,” he said. Johnson said he is happy to be back in Iowa. “I appreciate the people and the values within Iowa and had a very good experience in Ames as an undergraduate.”