ASNT… Creating a Safer World! ™

2022 Faculty Grant Recipients

Karen Johnson 

Karen Johnson, PhD, is an associate professor and program coordinator in the Aviation Technologies program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale as well as the secretary/treasurer of the Aviation Technician Education Council and its journal editor. Johnson’s undergraduate degree is in aviation maintenance technologies and both graduate degrees are in curriculum and instruction with a focus in learning systems design and technology. Prior to her work in academia, Johnson was a base mechanic on Bell 206-L1 helicopters for Air Evac Lifeteam.

Esmeralda Vataj 

Esmeralda Vataj, PhD, is director of First Year Physics in the Department of Physics, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). She is in charge of developing, coordinating, and managing all aspects of the freshman curriculum including content, delivery, and implementing new pedagogy for an enhanced student experience. Vataj has also developed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses on NDT for civil engineering. Vataj obtained her PhD in physics from University of Tirana focusing on different analytical methods such as SEM-EDS, micro XRF, and Raman spectroscopy, which were carried out at Rathgen Research Laboratory in Berlin, Germany through a DAAD internship. Vataj trained at I&T Nardoni Institute, in Brescia, Italy, and earned her Level III in VT, PT, MT, UT, and RT (2016–2019). She is a main/co-author of many research papers. She is also a member of ASNT’s Council for Women in NDT and is interested in enhancing the mission of research, education, outreach, and career development.