Paul Bruno Kannowski was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 1927. He was the son of Max and Frances Kannowski. He attended Grand Forks Central High School, participating in the junior class play, the golf team, and was student chair of the war bond and stamp drive. He graduated in 1944.
Continuing his education, he enrolled at the University of North Dakota, and was involved in the religious student organization Canterbury Club and was a member of Sigma Chi. Kannowski entered the United States Navy on August 21, 1945. He separated at Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 20, 1946. He returned to the University of North Dakota and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Science, Literature, and Arts on June 10, 1949. He received a Master of Science degree in biology from UND in June 1952, and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Michigan in February 1957.
Kannowski was an assistant professor of biology at the University of North Dakota from 1957 to 1960, and then became an associate professor until 1969. He became professor until his retirement in 1990, and was named Professor Emeritus of Biology in 1991. He was chair of the department from 1963 to 1970 and 1982 to 1988.
Kannowski received numerous honors and awards, including the Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship of the National Science Foundation (1966-67), the Award for Outstanding Scientific Research from the UND Chapter of Sigma Xi (1978), and the Professional Award, Central Mountains and Plains Section, of the Wildlife Society (1988).
Actively involved in many organizations, Kannowski held memberships in the Entomological Society of America, North Dakota Academy of Science, the Nature Conservancy, and the American Society of Zoologists.
Kannowski and his wife, Phyllis, had two children: Katherine and Mark. Paul Kannowski died on September 3, 2015, in Grand Forks.