About Ken

“This collection is going to be a priceless resource down the road.” – Kenelm Philip

Kenelm Winslow Philip (November 6, 1931 – March 13, 2014) was a lifelong butterfly collector and enthusiast whose biggest achievements included the founding of the Alaska Lepidoptera Survey and amassing the largest private collection of arctic butterflies and moths in the world (over 83,000). He was known to friends as Ken.

Born on Staten Island, New York, Ken was first introduced to butterfly collecting at Camp Treetops in the Adirondacks when he attended at the age of seven. A passion for butterfly collecting was born that would last his entire life until his unexpected passing at the age of 82.

The Smithsonian Institution had generously supported Ken’s Lepidoptera research. In his will, Philip left 90 percent of his collection to the Smithsonian Institution.

Read the full story of the Legacy of Kenelm Philip here.  

Education & Career

Ken attended Yale for his BS (1953), MS (1958) in Physics, and PhD in Astronomy in 1963.

From 1963-1965 Ken was Research Staff Astronomer at the Yale University Observatory. During his time there, his research focused on decameter observations of Jupiter and solar radio noise

In 1965, Ken moved to Fairbanks, Alaska and from 1965-1975 was an Assistant and Associate Professor of Physics at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His research during this time focused on high-time resolution studies of meter-wavelength solar radio bursts, solar radio noise, and acoustic sounding of the lower atmosphere.

Ken was a Research Associate, Senior Research Associate, and Senior Research Scientist from 1967-2014 at the Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks where he worked on the taxonomy and zoogeography of arctic and subarctic Lepidoptera.

In 1971, he began his work at the University of Alaska Museum and in 1977 he became a Research Associate in the Department of Entomology for the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1970, Ken founded the Alaska Lepidoptera Survey project, organizing collections across Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia. Over 600 volunteer collectors from those areas participated in the survey.



EntomologyKen Philip in the field with butterfly net

  • Philip, K. W. 1961. Satyrium behrii (Lycaenidae) in Nevada. J. Lep. Soc. 15:56.
  • Troubridge, J. T., K. W. Philip, J. A. Scott and J. H. Shepard. 1982. A new species of Oeneis (Satyridae) from the North American arctic. Canadian Entomologist 114:881-889.
  • Troubridge, J. T. and K. W. Philip. 1983. A review of the Erebia dabanensis complex (Lepidoptera: Satyridae) with descriptions of two new species. J. Res. Lep. 21:107-146.
  • Philip, K. W. 1983. Butterflies of the western North Slope and Victoria Island, with special reference to arctic butterfly zonation. In National Geographic Society Research Reports, Vol. 15, pages 513-522.
  • Philip, K. W. 1983. Butterflies in Alaska? Alaska Fish Tales and Game Trails 15 #2:12-15.
  • Philip, K. W. and P. Roos. 1985. Notes on Erebia occulta (Lepidoptera: Satyridae). J. Res. Lep. 24:81- 82.
  • Troubridge, J. T. and K. W. Philip. 1990. A new species of Colias (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) from arctic Canada. Canadian Entomologist 122:15-20.
  • Rydell, J., Roininen, H. and K.W. Philip. 2000. Persistence of bat defence reactions in high Arctic moths (Lepidoptera). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 267:553-557.
  • Rydell, J., Roininen, H., Philip, K.W. and A. Karhu. 2001. Lepidoptera collected in the Canadian Arctic during the Tundra Northwest 99 Expedition. Entomologica Fennica 12:131-138.
  • Ferris, C.D., Kruse, J.J., Lafontaine, J.D., Philip, K.W., Schmidt, B.C. and Sikes, D.S., 2012. A checklist of the moths of Alaska. Zootaxa, 3571(1), pp.1-25.
  • Dubatolov, V.V. and Philip, K.W., 2013. Review of the northern Holarctic Arctia caja complex (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Arctiinae). The Canadian Entomologist, 145(2), pp.147-154.
  • Philip, K.W., Ferris, C.D. 2016. Butterflies of Alaska: A Field Guide. 2nd ed. Alaska Entomological Society. 110 pp. ISBN 978-1-945170-60-7.

Astronomy / Physics

  • Philip, K. W. and L. Oster. 1961. Existence of net electric charges on stars. Nature 189:43.
  • Philip, K. W. 1964. Decametric observation of a moving type IV burst. Astrophys. J. 139:723.
  • Philip, K. W. 1982. Dancing wires: part two. In Alaska Science Nuggets, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska (N. Davis, ed.), page 214.
  • Philip, K. W. 1988. Using the Microscope. In The Guild Handbook of Scientific Illustration, Van Nostrand Reinhold (E. Hodges, ed.), pages 431–444.


Poster - Alaska Lepidoptera Survey: History and Future of the Kenelm W. Philip Lepidoptera Collection
Click on image to view poster.