The University of Victoria honoured its "all-star" researchers at a celebration last evening at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

The five recipients of the annual Craigdarroch Research Awards are proof that UVic's researchers are world-class, said Howard Brunt, vice-president of research.

"All the individuals we are honouring today are accomplished leaders in their fields who are engaging in the wider community to apply new knowledge for the benefit of society," said Brunt in a press release issued prior to the ceremony.

Professor John McLaren, now retired, is considered the world's foremost legal historian. He received the Craigdarroch Gold Medal for his career achievement which in part examined the collision of religious belief and the common law.

Research and teaching do go together, said McLaren yesterday afternoon. "You have the opportunity to research things that interest you and will be helpful to get an understanding of what you teach," McLaren said.

Afzal Suleman was awarded the Craigdarroch Silver Medal for excellence in research after he set up a research program with applications in transportation, energy systems and bioengineering. Suleman was unavailable for an interview yesterday.

An award for societal contributions was bestowed on scientists representing the UVic faculty and the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis. The group contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

"We have a tremendous collection of climate science going on here at the University of Victoria," said Tom Pederson, dean of science, on behalf of physical and social climate scientists honoured last evening.

Mechanical engineer Peter Wild was recipient for an award of innovation and developmental corporation entrepreneurship. His work ushers new technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.

One project involves developing a wave-energy convertor for a local company, Syncwave Energy. Another has to do with planning and developing a fibre-optic sensor for biomedical applications.

"Wherever there's a customer in the sense there's an ultimate application for the usefulness of the research, I'm very drawn to that," said Wild.

Cecilia Benoit was honoured for research communication, all done outside the lab and often in places like the streets of Vancouver's east side or downtown Victoria.

"A lot of the research I've done over the years has to do with community organizations," said Benoit. "I'm particularly interested in research of vulnerable populations, particularly those with a large number of women."

The annual Craigdarroch awards honour research excellence at UVic. They are named for Craigdarroch Castle, home to the university's predecessor institution, Victoria College.