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Brett C. Couch
Senior Instructor
Departments of Botany and Zoology
University of British Columbia
Las alas del Diablo: The Ecology, Evolution and Genetics of Capsaicin in Chilies

Why are chilies so hot? This case study begins with a story about an undergraduate student who is inspired to learn about capsaicin production in chilies after losing a spicy chicken wing eating contest. The case was developed as an initial activity for an introductory biology course serving biology majors and non-majors. The case would also be appropriate for an introductory or non-majors course with an emphasis on evolution and could serve as a starting point for a unit on understanding adaptations in a second year evolution course. The case is designed with a large amount of flexibility in the depth of content coverage and can be used by instructors teaching in either flipped or lecture-based classes. In the flipped approach basic understanding of primary content is acquired by working through the handout and answering the questions and class time is devoted to discussion and interaction with the instructor. A PowerPoint presentation, available for download from the teaching notes, can be used to guide the in-class activity.