Benjamin Cocanougher

Benjamin Cocanougher

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2016 PhD Zoology
  • St Catharine's College

I grew up catching praying mantises and damselflies in rural Kentucky. As an undergraduate at Centre College, I majored in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; I spent my summers taking care of sick children at the Center for Courageous Kids and doing research in organic chemistry and neuroscience. I matriculated directly to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and completed my first three years of medical school. I then moved to Janelia Research Campus as a HHMI Medical Research Fellow; there I studied the neural and genetic bases of behavior. As a PhD student in Zoology, I will study adaptive behavior. All animals integrate information about past experience into future decisions; this is the basis of learning and memory. I am proposing to write a specific memory and read the memory trace in the brain. I will use the fruit fly as a model organism. By understanding mechanisms of memory storage, we can begin to investigate changes in memory formation in disease; this may allow us to develop rational therapies for disorders of memory formation, including autism and Alzheimer’s disease. After completing my PhD, I will return to finish my last year of medical school and pursue a career as a child neurologist and neuroscientist, using my lab to better understand the patients I see in clinic.

Previous Education

Centre College

Latest News

Rainforest carbon credit schemes less effective than thought, claims report

The effectiveness of widely used rainforest carbon credit schemes has been called into question by a new study. The study, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Carbon Crediting,  by the Berkeley Carbon Trading Project is co-authored by Gates Cambridge Scholar Libby Blanchard [2012] and has been making headlines around the world. It brings […]

Gates Cambridge Trust seeks Global Engagement Officer

About us  Gates Cambridge Scholarships are prestigious, highly competitive, full-cost scholarships awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Gates Cambridge Scholars become part of a lifelong global community defined by its core value of commitment to improving the […]

How combining clinical data could improve traumatic brain injury outcomes

Researchers, led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar, have integrated all medical data collected from traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients to calculate, for the first time, the personalised contribution of each clinical event to long-term recovery. This international effort marks a step towards patient-centred treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU). Shubhayu Bhattacharyay [2020] is the lead […]

Building a more sustainable future

When Alejandro Rivera Rivera [2015] was doing his MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at Cambridge, a key theme was dealing with complexity, change and uncertainty. The course gave him some tools to cope, but he could never have imagined how useful these would come in when he returned to Guatemala and co-founded a business […]

Is filling data holes the key to climate justice?

Bias in the collection of data on which Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer programmes depend can limit the usefulness of this rapidly growing tool for climate scientists predicting future scenarios and guiding global action, according to a new paper by researchers at the University of Cambridge published in Nature’s npj |Climate Action series. AI computer programmes used for […]

Manipulating flexibility to increase survival in the city

Researchers have discovered a trait in certain urban birds that may enable them to adapt to – and possibly be trained to adapt to – human-induced environmental change. The researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and the University of California Santa Barbara, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Dr Corina Logan [2008], studied a successful […]

Adopting inclusive strategies on climate change in rural areas

Albert Arhin is a climate change and sustainability research fellow in Ghana where he also leads on a major climate adaptation project. His work as a researcher, lecturer and consultant aims to improve the lives of rural communities by increasing the effectiveness of conservation and sustainability policies and projects, ensuring that everyone is on board and […]

Getting children back to school in Pakistan

In April Pakistan’s education minister declared that the country has the highest number of out of school children in the world. According to UNICEF data, approximately 22.8 million children aged 5-16 in Pakistan do not attend school, accounting for 44 percent of the population of this age. The declaration came the year after months of […]

Scholar co-stars in comedy sketch show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A late-night comedy parodying Ed Sheeran’s rise to stardom, co-starring, co-written and co-directed by Gates Cambridge Scholar Alex Mentzel, is premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Accompanied by a glittering live band and fresh from a sold-out London run, Ed: the new, totally unofficial, ginger-inclusive parody sketch show plays 4-19 August at ZOO Playground. […]

Towards a Netflix for cancer treatment

The aim of Ping Lin Yeap’s research is to “create a Netflix for cancer treatment”, he says. By that he means that he wants to personalise cancer treatment, ensuring that it is able to adapt a patient’s radiotherapy plan based on how their anatomy changes on any given day. Cancer can lead to weight loss […]