For the last fourteen years, Pamela B. Vandiver has been Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Co-Director of the Program in Heritage Conservation Science, Head of the Laboratory for Cultural Materials, and Adjunct Professor in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. From 1985 through 2003, she was senior research scientist in ceramics at the Smithsonian Institution in the Conservation Analytical Laboratory. Prior to 1985, she spent thirteen years at M.I.T where she started the MSE Glass Lab, completed a S.M. and Ph.D. in MSE and co-authored the book Ceramic Masterpieces with W. David Kingery (a second edition is due to be published by Wiley in 2018).
She obtained a B.A. in history, art and Asian studies from Scripps College and a M.A. that included art glass, cast bronzes and large ceramic sculptures. In 1989 she and Edward Sayre began the MRS symposium series, Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology, she has organized and co-edited all 11 volumes, with a contribution of six co-authored papers in this last volume. In 2006, the Archaeological Institute of America presented her with the Pomerance Medal for her contributions to the field of archaeological science. She has published 170 papers that include: reconstructing the technology of the earliest ceramic figurines from 26,000 years before present, the processing and application of Paleolithic pigments at Lascaux and other caves, reverse engineering the origins of Neolithic pottery technology in Southwest Asia and Egypt at 6400-6500 B.C.E. that developed from plaster technology using the sequential slab construction process widely disseminated from Pakistan to Egypt and Turkey.
Other research focii include the technological history of faience and other glassy materials in Egypt and Mesopotamia, the medieval Ishkor plant-ash glaze technology of Central Asia, Chinese Song dynasty glazes, the Neolithic Yangshao and Longshan pottery production, and technology transfer of glaze technologies from China to the rest of East and Southeast Asia. Recently Prof. Vandiver has headed the Art, Archaeology and Conservation Science Division of the ACerS, as well as, some years ago, the Kingery award committee.