Phil Torres

Lepidopterology is the study of butterflies and moths

Phil Torres is a biologist, science communicator, photographer, and television host known for his diverse range of work in the fields of biology, conservation, and science education. He is based in New York City but is involved in projects that take him all around the world. Phil has a strong affinity for butterflies, and has dedicated a significant portion of his career to studying and advocating for these beautiful insects.

Phil Torres was born on March 17, 1986, in Denver, Colorado, United States. Torres was raised alongside his older sister Eve Torres. Eve is an actress, dancer, model, and martial arts instructor. happily married to his wife Silja Danielsen. They got married after about four years of dating. They met in 2014 through a mutual scientist friend.

Phil proposed to Silja in August 2017 after taking her to Fedje, a small Norwegian island where her grandparents got married. Torres and Silja got married at the Nordic Museum in Seattle[1]. Torres attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He graduated with two degrees in Biology and Entomology. He later joined Rice University in Houston, Texas where he earned his Ph.D. in tropical conservation biology.

Phil is best known for hosting the television show TechKnow on Al Jazeera America. He is also known for starring in the TV shows; Expedition X on Discovery Channel, Big Metal Bird, Ready, Set, Pet on The CW. Most of his scientific research and discoveries have been featured on various TV channels like Wired, BBC, Animal Planet, ABC News, National Geographic, MSNBC, and The Wall Street.

Before he got on TV, Torres lived in the Amazon Rainforest for two years doing research. He also covered scientific stories in Mongolia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Cambodia, Sweden, Brazil, the bottom of the Ocean, the Bahamas, and the Arctic.

One of Phil’s most publicized discoveries was a spider that constructs a fake, larger spider in its web using silk, leaves, and dead insects. This is the only known animal (besides humans) that creates another animal from scratch and was Wired Science’s #2 story of the year in 2012.

It seems like a really well evolved and very specialized behavior. Considering that spiders can already make really impressive geometric designs with their webs, it’s no surprise that they can take that leap to make an impressive design with debris and other things.

Phil Torres – in a blog entry written for Rainforest Expeditions[2]

After graduating Cornell, Phil won $100,000 as a contestant on “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” , hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, and earned more than any other Ivy League graduate on the show. While on an expedition into the Intangible Zone[3] in remote Amazonian Ecuador, Phil was bitten, and pooped on, by an anaconda.

Photos by Phil Torres

Phil helped to discover over 40 new species by the age of 20 during scientific expeditions in Venezuela and Mongolia. As a science reporter, he has taken a submarine to the bottom of the ocean, an ice breaker into the Arctic, and tackled sharks with shark conservationists to help satellite tag them. Phil has long practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the Gracie Academy in Los Angeles.

He has used this training to fight off muggers in Quito, Ecuador, and to chase down a thief after he witnessed a robbery in New York City.

I learned about Phil on the Josh Gates paranormal investigation show, Expedition X.

Josh Gates sends scientist Phil Torres and paranormal researcher Jessica Chobot to investigate supernatural encounters, mysterious creatures, and astonishing extraterrestrial phenomena, taking viewers to the stranger side of the unknown. Phil uses all of his science knowledge to try and debunk the paranormal on their quests.

Ologies with Alie Ward – Podcast

  1. The Nordic Museum in Seattle is a cultural institution that celebrates and preserves the rich heritage of Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Located in the Ballard neighborhood, this museum showcases a wide range of exhibits and artifacts that offer insight into the history, art, culture, and traditions of the Nordic peoples. Visitors can explore diverse collections that span from ancient Viking history to modern Scandinavian innovations, and they can also engage in interactive experiences that help bridge the gap between the past and present, fostering an appreciation for the contributions of Nordic immigrants to the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The Nordic Museum serves as an important cultural hub for the local Nordic community and a valuable resource for those interested in Nordic heritage. [Back]
  2. Rainforest Expeditions is a renowned eco-tourism company specializing in providing immersive and sustainable rainforest experiences in the Amazon basin of Peru. With multiple lodges strategically located in the Tambopata region, Rainforest Expeditions offers visitors the opportunity to explore one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems while promoting conservation and responsible tourism practices. Their lodges are designed to minimize environmental impact, and expert guides lead educational excursions that allow guests to encounter the Amazon’s incredible wildlife and learn about its delicate ecosystem. Rainforest Expeditions is dedicated to supporting conservation efforts, research initiatives, and community development projects, making it a leader in responsible and eco-conscious travel within the Amazon rainforest. [Back]
  3. Roughly the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, The Intangible Zone is located in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, and has been designated by Ecuador’s government as a conservation area—off-limits to oil extraction, mining and logging—since 1999. [Back]

Further Reading


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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