A trail-blazing lawyer, a sociologist who works with society’s most vulnerable populations, two innovative mechanical engineers, and a group of climate scientists are winners of the University of Victoria’s 2008 Craigdarroch Research Awards.
Established in 2003, the annual Craigdarroch awards honour research excellence at UVic.
“We consistently say our researchers are world-class, and here’s proof,” says Dr. Howard Brunt, UVic’s vice-president research. “All of these individuals are accomplished leaders in their fields who are engaging with the wider community to apply new knowledge for the benefit of society.”
Gold Medal for Career Achievement
Law scholar is a legal trail-blazer
A leading legal historian, John McLaren has made an indelible mark upon Canadian legal studies in his writing, teaching and administrative contributions over the last four decades.
McLaren’s thoughtful examinations have ranged from the collision of religious belief and common law to the role of law as a moral regulator in areas such as prostitution, obscenity and public nudity.
His ability to combine painstaking empirical enquiry with insightful analysis of different perspectives has made him a leader and role model among Canadian legal historians, and ranks him among the best in the Commonwealth. He retired in 2006.
McLaren’s accomplishments were recognized in 2005 with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award from the Canadian Bar Association, who referred to him as “Canada’s legal history ambassador to the common law world.”
Silver Medal for
Excellence in Research
The sky is no limit for aerospace engineer
Described by his peers as a “dynamic and versatile” researcher, Dr. Afzal Suleman is an internationally recognized leader in aeronautical design.
He holds degrees in aeronautical engineering and mechanical/aerospace engineering, studied space sciences at the International Space University in Japan and completed postdoctoral research at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the US.
Suleman’s research in “smart” composite materials may lead to lighter yet stronger aircraft. His work is so highly regarded that his expertise is sought by commercial and military organizations within the European Union and NATO. But his interests aren’t limited to the skies. Since joining UVic in 2000, he has established a vibrant research program with applications in transportation, energy systems and bioengineering. He has obtained substantial research grants and contracts and supervised 45 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Award for Societal Contribution
Climate group helps issue global warning
Climate assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) present the most current information on the science and potential impacts of global climate change.
For its efforts in alerting the world to human-caused climate change, the IPCC was co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Sharing that award as coordinating lead authors, lead authors and contributors to IPCC assessments was a group of Victoria-based physical and social climate scientists.
They are either UVic faculty or graduate students, or adjunct professors who are employed as research scientists with Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Both departments have research centres located on or near the UVic campus.
The close ties and combined efforts of this group of scientists have made UVic an internationally recognized centre of excellence in climate change research.
Award for Research Communication
Shedding light on society’s most vulnerable
Translating research knowledge into usable information for front-line service providers is a driving force in the career of UVic sociologist Cecilia Benoit.
Her research—on gender, work and health; the health of homeless youth; and midwifery—is of broad interest to policy-makers, practitioners and community organizations.
Benoit serves on a number of academic and government advisory boards. She speaks to the news media about her work and is a frequent public speaker in locations as varied as school gymnasiums, union meeting halls, prisons, health clinics and retirement homes.
By sharing her research findings and their policy implications, Benoit is helping to reduce gender inequalities and promote the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in Canadian society.
UVic Innovation and Development Corp. Entrepreneurship Award
Moving mechanisms into the marketplace
As a mechanical engineer, director of UVic’s Institute for Integrated Energy Systems and holder of the NSERC Chair in Sustainable Energy Systems Design, Dr. Peter Wild is committed to moving new technology from the lab to the marketplace.
Since joining UVic in 2003 he has been a steady supporter of UVic’s Innovation and Development Corporation and its activities and has been involved in a number of significant collaborative research agreements with industry.
Wild has filed for several patents through IDC. One involves a probe that could replace the larger, more intrusive needles used by physicians to identify the source of back pain.
Another collaboration is advancing research into harnessing energy from ocean movement, which could help remote coastal communities lessen their reliance on power generators.