Receiving The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Gold Medal is a pretty impressive honour. Receiving it from two celebrities while standing in the shadow of the towering Haida Gwaii totem poles in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., however, is another thing entirely — especially when more than 400 people are watching you.

But, then, world-renowned Canadian paleontologist Philip Currie (right) is no stranger to spectacular scenes or large crowds, and he handled his acceptance of the medal at the Society’s annual College of Fellows Dinner on Nov. 7, 2012, with aplomb.

“In every field of endeavour, in every discipline, once in a while there emerges a superstar,” said Dan Aykroyd, who, along with his wife Donna Dixon, presented Currie with the medal. “In the field of paleontology, Phil Currie is emerging as such, and the timeliness of this award is wholly appropriate.”

“Phil truly loves his work,” added Dixon. “He exudes the energy of a young boy at Christmas, excited at each bone and discovery.”

Currie received a standing ovation when he accepted the award, which is given to an individual in recognition of a particular achievement or event — in this case, Currie’s long-standing career in paleontology, including his extensive work on theropods, or two-legged dinosaurs, such as the T. rex, as well as his theory that some carnivorous dinosaurs hunted in packs.

“Phil is a living advocate and interpreter for the voices of dinosaurs,” said Aykroyd. “His groundbreaking, meticulous and innovative research adds immeasurably every day to our understanding of what being alive was like on Earth millions of years ago.”

Previous recipients of the Gold Medal include Sir Christopher Ondaatje, American astronaut Jerry Linenger and “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek.

Currie wasn’t the only one recognized for his contributions. Fraser Taylor, a distinguished research professor in geography and environmental studies at Ottawa’s Carleton University, was presented with the Canadian Award for Environmental Innovation for his use of cybercartography, which blends information about local cultures and multimedia to create interactive atlases. James Boxall, the director of the Geographical Information Sciences Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax, received the Geographic Literacy Award for his contributions to geography through education.

The awards presented at the event are one of the ways the Society shows its admiration for the influential and great Canadians in attendance that evening. “There are many brilliant people in the world, really brilliant people,” said Aykroyd. “This room is filled with you.”

For more on the dinner visit