Biography: Pamela Logan

September 2011

Pamela Logan never dreamed her career path would take her to the farthest corners of Asia. Her professional training was in aerospace science, in which she received a doctorate degree from Stanford University, having obtained a BS and MS from the California Institute of Technology. Subsequently she was employed at the University of California at Los Angeles as a lecturer and research scientist in laser diagnostics applied to combustion. She also holds a fourth-degree black belt in Shotokan karate, a Japanese martial art.

Parallel to her career as a scientist she developed a talent for photography, and wrote sporadically for newsletters, student publications, and technical journals. Inspired by her martial arts training, in 1989 she applied for and won a travel grant from the Durfee Foundation to investigate the warrior tribes of eastern Tibet, people known as Khampas. The journey lasted over a year, and led to her book Among Warriors, now published in hardcover (Overlook Press, 1996) and softcover (Random House, 1998) editions as well as in Polish translation (Ravi, 1998). She also began writing for periodicals such as China Geographic Monthly, Asia Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Far Eastern Economic Review, among others.

In the spring of 1993, again funded by the Durfee Foundation, she returned to China to explore Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. That year also marked the start of her full-time involvement with the China Exploration & Research Society (CERS). Based in Hong Kong, CERS conducts a variety of interdisciplinary field projects in China. Through them, she explored areas such as the Changtang in western Tibet, and examined radar remote sensing images in search of Silk Road ruins in the country’s northwest.

In 1994 she was named director of a CERS project whose aim is architectural conservation of Tibetan monasteries in western Sichuan province. In the four years following, she led five expeditions composed of international conservation specialists and Tibetan support personnel to Pewar Monastery where they saved wall paintings threatened by collapse of the building that housed them. This epic project is the subject of her second book Tibetan Rescue (Tuttle, 2002).

In 1996 Dr. Logan was named "Woman Explorer of the Year," an international prize awarded by the Scientific Exploration Society of Great Britain and sponsored by Mr. Eric Hotung of Hong Kong.

In 1997 Dr. Logan established the Kham Aid Foundation in California to bring assistance to the people of the eastern Tibetan plateau. Kham Aid’s program areas included conservation of ancient Buddhist wall paintings and temples at monastic sites, assistance for rural schools, publication of Tibetan language books, scholarships for poor children, wheelchairs for the disabled, reforestation, gifts of vital medical equipment to rural clinics, midwife and health care training for rural women, publication of the first textbook in the Minyak language, job training in construction and handicraft skills, artisan product development, fire safety training for monasteries, and development of sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism. In this effort she was helped by a strong and effective local staff in Kham and her Chinese and Tibetan language skills.  Kham Aid Foundation operated for thirteen years, shutting down on Dec 31, 2010.   

Logan’s photography has appeared in National Geographic, Newsweek, and the New York Times among other publications. She has given invited lectures for the Royal Geographical Society, Young Presidents Organization, Asia Society, Explorer’s Club, Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents Club, Silk Road Foundation, California Institute of Technology, World Monuments Fund, Pacific-Asia Museum, Sierra Club, and other organizations.

Now employed full-time as an engineer, Dr. Logan is working on her third book, working title Incorrect Tibet, about her thirteen years of NGO work on the Roof of the World. She serves as advisor to Tibetan Village Project, a Colorado-based NGO that operates assistance programs in Tibetan regions of China.  She teaches martial arts through Tri-Cities Shotokan Karate.