Yuri P. Korshunov was born on 22 September 1933 in Chernorechka Village near Novosibirsk. The family soon moved to Novosibirsk. His mother's ancestors were migrants from the Volga region, his father's ones were from the Samara region. Korshunov's first observations of insects began in his early childhood. The district of Novosibirsk where he lived resembled a village, there were lots of insects and other wild creatures. Yuri built open-air cages for caught butterflies, observed lizards and frogs. He was very impressed having read J.-H. Fabre's 'Life of insects.' Yuri looked for chrysalides of Small Tortoiseshell and observed the birth of butterflies. His parents presented him a small microscope. Yuri read books and looked films about famous Russian and foreign travellers. Thus the way into the biology was predetermined. A small tourist group was organised in his school in 1946. Korshunov travelled with his fellows and a teacher in Altai Mountains, there the group met ichthyologists from just now organised Siberian Branch of Academy of Sciences. Since that time Korshunov's scientific life was tied with the Biological Institute. Yuri became a member of young naturalist society 'Siberia,' headed by S. A. Strom, an eminent student of Siberian local lore, visited seminars conducted by the zoologists K. T. Yurlov, I. N. Glotov. He got to know A. E. Standel, local amateur lepidopterist, who made available for Korshunov his great collection of butterflies and moths an gave him first lessons in the lepidopterology. These regular studies mostly determined scientific interests of Korshunov. He journeyed in summers through the Altai together with tourist groups, organised by S. A. Strom and collected entomological materials.
In 1951 Yu. P. Korshunov entered Tomsk University. There he read many special books in the very rich university library, made the acquaintance with the rests of A. A. Meinhard's butterfly collection. Besides he observed the winter life of birds, monitored them in Tomsk Botanical gardens. The year 1953 was tragic for Korshunov. An encephalitis tick bit him and the illness wasn't diagnosed in proper time, it was long and poignant. The after-effects of illness had an influence upon the whole of the life of Yu. P. Korshunov, they were a cause of his premature decease. Migrated to Kharkov A. E. Standel invited Korshunov to this town to undergo a special cure and to study at Kharkov University, at the Entomological faculty headed by Prof. S. I. Medvedev. Korshunov moved to Kharkov and kept on studying there. He journeyed with A. E. Standel through the Kharkov region. He continued studies with Standel simultaneously with active ones at the Faculty. Korshunov visited Moscow during the winter vacations in 1954. He got to know a famous entomologist A. A. Yakhontov, whom considered as his teacher in scientific methodology. He examined a great collection by amateur lepidopterist A. V. Tsvetaev, then he went to Leningrad where he made acquaintance of B. N. Schanwitsch, A. A. Stakelberg and other famous scholars, saw the greatest in the country collection of butterflies and moths in the Zoological Institute. In May 1954 Korshunov took part in a student expedition in the Crimea, then he joined a Moscow research group headed by G. A. Mazokhin-Porshnyakov. He moved within this expedition to Transcaucasus (one of scopes of this expedition was testing the effectiveness of various types of lamps for attraction of nocturnal insects). Korshunov practically ceased his graduating thesis in May 1954, it was dedicated to the butterflies of southern and mountainous parts of the Crimea. He visited Novosibirsk during his winter vacations in 1956 and settled to get a job at Siberian Branch of Academy (future Biological Institute). Korshunov began his professional scientific life in an expedition dedicated to the research of the fauna of the future Ob Reservoir territory. The main individual Korshunov's scope was the collecting butterflies, he studied at the same time other groups of insects. Then he worked during 2 summer seasons in the Experimental Farm of Siberian Branch of Academy, near Acha Village, NE of Novosibirsk and in Bugotak Hills. Quite the whole territory from the Urals as far as the Far East was in those times an enormous white spot with rare relatively carefully studied points. The butterfly fauna was poorly known, the distribution of described taxa remained uncertain, at the same time it was clear that there are many unknown species and their forms. Yu. P. Korshunov decided to devote his life to the study of the whole volume of the Rhopalocera fauna of the Russian Northern Asia.
Yu. P. Korshunov headed or took part in many expeditions of a very wide geographical range: The Altai Mts, Novosibirsk region, Tomsk region, Crimea, Transcaucasus, Kemerovo Region, Khakasia, Krasnoyarsk Region (the reserve 'Stolby'), Polar Ural and Yamal, Buryatia.
The results of many years' work are summed in Yu. P. Korshunov's monographs. The first monograph, 'Butterflies of the Western Siberian Plain. A key,' contains key tables, detailed descriptions of all the butterflies in question and many illustrations. The second monograph is 'A catalogue of Rhopalocera (Lepidoptera) of the USSR.' Korshunov's catalogue placed the study of this group of insects on a new foundation, attracting a fresh scientific interest to this field.
Yuri Petrovich Korshunov has died on 1 August 2002, in Novosibirsk.