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Gurel Invited to Rising Stars Workshop, Takes Part in iREDEFINE

Nil Gurel has been invited to attend the 2018 Rising Stars Workshop, hosted by the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Rising Stars is an intensive workshop for women graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are interested in pursuing academic careers. The event will be held October 28-30, 2018 at the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Gurel joined the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in 2016, where she has been a Ph.D. student in the Inan Research Lab for the last two years. Her advisor is ECE Assistant Professor Omer Inan. Gurel completed her M.S. degree in ECE at the University of Maryland at College Park in 2016, and she earned her B.S. degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Bogazici University (Istanbul, Turkey) in 2014.

Gurel's Ph.D. research focuses on physiological modulation, monitoring, and active sensing. She works on non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (n-VNS) to artificially modulate the brain function without requirement for surgery, to possibly treat autonomic nervous system or mental disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In particular, Gurel works on biomedical instrumentation, signal processing, and machine learning to understand real-time non-invasive biomarkers to close the loop for treatment optimization and control.

Gurel also took part in the iREDEFINE Workshop, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, at the ECE Department Heads Association Annual Conference, held on March 16-20, 2018 in Monterey, California. The goal of iREDEFINE is to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in faculty positions at ECE departments. 

At the conference, Gurel presented a poster entitled “Toward Closed-Loop Non-Invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation in Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” which is a collaborative project with Emory University. Non-invasive cervical vagus nerve stimulation (n-VNS) is a promising treatment for patients with PTSD, and wearable sensing may allow for closed-loop delivery of n-VNS. In this work, Gurel and her collaborators introduced non-invasive physiological biomarkers of n-VNS, along with gold standard brain imaging and serum biomarkers, taken from human subjects undergoing a protocol that includes various mental stressors. The results indicate that n-VNS may dampen sympathetic arousal in response to various mental stressors.