Rimoldi Ibanez in the lab

Rimoldi Ibanez in the lab

AVON PARK, Fla. – April 26, 2021 – South Florida State College (SFSC) student, Camila Rimoldi Ibanez, was awarded the $1,000 Skoch Scholarship through Florida Sea Grant. Rimoldi Ibanez is a Sebring High School senior dually enrolled at SFSC.

The Skoch Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding high school senior competing in the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida. The scholarship recognizes promising young researchers in a coastal or marine science-related field.

“We are thrilled to learn of Camila winning the 2021 Skoch Scholarship,” said Dr. James Hawker, SFSC dean of arts and sciences. “She won because of the undergraduate coral research project she conducted at SFSC this past year. It is gratifying that talented and deserving students like her have the chance to win scholarships for university transfer, because SFSC promotes expanded learning by students doing research projects with faculty mentors.”

Rimoldi Ibanez researched whether a species of coral has genes that are associated with the reception or emission of sound in her award-winning project, “Ultrasonic Planimals! Identifying Genes Associated with Coral Bioacoustics.”

According to Rimoldi Ibanez’s research abstract: “Because corals make up the ‘rainforests of the sea,’ this ecosystem is believed to be highly dependent on communication to grow and survive. Many organisms that live in coral reefs, including coral larvae, perceive and are guided by sound when trying to find their way to coral reefs to develop.”

To conduct the study, Rimoldi Ibanez performed genetic analysis on coral DNA, looking for evidence of four genes known to be sound-sensitive. Two of the sound-sensitive genes, called TRPV and FOLH1, displayed “faint bands” in the gene presence analysis, indicating that they may be present in corals and that further research is warranted.

Rimoldi Ibanez graduates from Sebring High School and earns her Associate in Arts degree from SFSC in May 2021. She plans to continue her education at Nova Southeastern University or Florida Atlantic University.

Funding for this scholarship is provided by the Skoch family of Boynton Beach in memory of Charles “Chuck” Skoch, an avid fisherman, boat captain, and Florida resident who prematurely died in an automobile accident at age 51.

Florida Sea Grant is a university-based program that supports research, education, and extension to conserve coastal resources and enhance economic opportunities for residents of Florida. It is partnered with the Florida Board of Education, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Florida’s citizens and governments.