Jesse Garcia de Alva

MIT Department: Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Polina Anikeeva
Undergraduate Institution: University of California, San Diego
Website: LinkedIn
Research Poster


My name is Jesse de Alva. I am a rising senior Electrical Engineering major at the University of California, San Diego. I have a passion for engineering and learning and have been an Instructional Assistant for the past couple years in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD. In the future, I hope to use my skills to make a positive impact on the quality of people’s lives, in particular through the field of medical devices and prosthetics. Because of this, I am involved with research in the medical field at the GI Motility Laboratory where I focus on furthering diagnostic tools used for esophageal disorders. In my spare time I love to longboard, play Dungeons and Dragons, and especially build anything and everything I can. From woodworking and leatherwork to electronics and embroidery, I love to make things with my hands!

2021 Abstract

Towards Closed Loop Modulation of Gut Neural Circuits using Fiber Integrated Flow Sensors

Jesse de Alva1, Atharva Sahasrabudhe2 and Polina Anikeeva3
1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of
California – San Diego
2Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3Department of Material Science and Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Multifunction fibers have been used to bring a variety of stimulation and recording methods to diverse organ systems in freely behaving animals. However, use of the fibers for stimulation of gut neural circuits has been limited due to the lack of feedback within the gut.  In order to achieve a closed loop system, we propose the integration of a miniaturized thermal flow sensor within the fiber to allow for operation in a non-contact mode. The focus of this work was to design, fabricate and characterize such a flow sensor as well as to optimize its role in a closed loop system. The realization of the project’s goals involved both the confirmation of the microscopic flow sensor to reliably track a food/fluid bolus and the validation for a full electronic system for implantation in the body within the fiber. The miniaturized flow sensor consists of a thermal actuator and multiple thermal sensors located upstream and downstream from the actuator parallel to the flow direction to reliably detect a difference in temperature during the passage of the bolus. The resulting fiber prototype showed the ability to accurately detect the movement of material and appropriately trigger a stimulation event, proving to create a closed loop electronic system.