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NMSU?s Project Discovery: Inaugural event explores the science and flavor of chile

The right kind of chile can bring magic to cooking, but at New Mexico State University, there is a lot more to this spicy food than meets the tongue. The university will welcome the public to be entertained and learn more about chile research at NMSU?s first Project Discovery event at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 19 at Atkinson Recital Hall.

Man holding a red chile
Regents Professor Paul Bosland will be a featured speaker during NMSU?s ?Project Discovery: An evening of music, dance and the science behind the world?s hottest chile pepper.? (NMSU photo)

?New Mexico State University is truly all about discovery,? said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers. ?This is where our students find themselves, who they are and what they want to do with their lives. For generations, our researchers also have made important discoveries in agriculture, engineering, science and other fields. It?s important to share these discoveries with our community.?

?Project Discovery: An evening of music, dance and the science behind the world?s hottest chile pepper? will not only include a discussion of chile research, but also performances inspired by chile from music and dance groups and a chance to sample various kinds of salsa. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture will host the ?world?s greatest salsa bar,? offering about 30 distinct New Mexico varieties including award winning salsas from the Southern New Mexico State Fair.

?Project Discovery is the brainchild of several former chairs of the NMSU faculty senate, especially Tim Ketelaar,? said NMSU Executive Vice President and Provost Dan Howard. ?The goal is to expose members of the university community and the broader Las Cruces community to the wonderful accomplishments of the faculty, staff, and students of the university in areas as diverse as science, communication, music, and dance ? and to have some fun while doing so.?

Former Las Cruces mayor Ruben Smith and past Associated Students of NMSU president David Maestas will emcee the event. A highlight of the evening is a conversation about the science behind the hottest chile peppers with NMSU Regents professor Paul Bosland, renowned chile expert and director of the world?s only Chile Pepper Institute. Members of the public will have a chance to ask him questions. Fred Martino, KRWG television content director, will moderate the discussion.

?There is more to chile peppers than just heat,? Bosland explained. ?They have a complexity of flavors, so I will be touching on discoveries about flavors of chile peppers. The audience will be invited to join me on the Horseshoe to experience the range of heats and flavors of chile peppers. It should be a hot night of discovery at NMSU!"

The university plans to host a series of these events on different topics to showcase the varied talents of NMSU faculty and students.

?Each Project Discovery will focus on a different theme? said Tim Ketelaar, associate professor of psychology and co-producer of the event along with Tom Smith, theatre department head. ?This year it?s chile, but subsequent events will highlight scholarship in colleges across the university. We wanted to create a an opportunity for our community to discover or rediscover some of the amazing things going on at NMSU.?

Project Discovery performances will feature Frank ?Pancho? Romero?s Salseros Nuevo Mexicanos, NMSU DanceSport an NMSU Dance groups. The event will continue with an after-party on the Horseshoe featuring chile-inspired sorbet and kid-friendly gelato.

Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for NMSU employees or retirees with an NMSU ID and $5 for NMSU students with an ID or children under 18. Ticket sales will help to support student scholarships. Tickets are available at the Pan American Center box office, by calling 575-646-1420 or online through Ticketmaster.