Phillip J. Clausen

Phil Clausen
Dr. Phillip J. Clausen, former Curator of the University of Minnesota Insect Collection, passed away in December, 2018.  He was 81. Phil was curator for nearly 40 years, from 1971 until he retired in 2010.  The current structure, diversity, and quality of the collection is largely due to Phil’s dedicated care.  He was also instrumental in establishing the collection’s accession database in the early 1970s, that is still in use today. Phil received his undergraduate degree in Forestry from the U of M and both his MS and PhD degrees in our department in 1965 and 1969, respectively.  His advisor, Dr. Ed Cook, my predecessor, was an expert in Diptera and Phil worked on Ephydridae, shore flies, for his graduate and professional research.  He also had a very strong interest in Cerambycidae; as a result, the collection has very diverse holdings in both of these groups.  For much of his career, Phil took numerous collecting trips around the world to obtain material for the collection, adding to its species diversity, especially noticeable in butterflies and moths.  He was also very skilled in building and repairing museum supplies, all types of curatorial techniques, and broadly knowledgeable in insect identification.  He loved working in the collection, laughing at and complaining about poorly written identification keys, making up funny names for insect taxa, or commenting on the University’s administrative foibles.  What most people remember about Phil is his entertaining and informative tours of the insect collection, his visits to local schools, and his annual presence at the State Fair to delight people about the wonders of insects and the importance of entomology. He could coax the most entomophobic child or parent to pet a tarantula or hold an emperor scorpion. It was a great pleasure to have worked with him for almost 25 years.  HIs wife, Lynette, and 2 sons live in St. Paul. He has 5 grandchildren. Phil wanted no public memorial service.  It is nice to just remember him and to see his professional contribution to the Department and University everyday in the Insect Collection.

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