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Benjamin Cocanougher

Benjamin Cocanougher

  • Scholar
  • 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

Addressing energy injustice in the Global South

A new framework which uses artificial intelligence to analyse textual data on energy use and behaviour could help policymakers develop a deeper understanding of energy injustices in the Global South. The study, Grounded reality meets machine learning: A deep-narrative analysis framework for energy policy research, was led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath [2018] and is published in the journal Energy Research […]

Scholar wins top German prize for PhD thesis

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious international award for her PhD dissertation on the relationship between offshore finance and state power. Dr Andrea Binder was named winner of the Körber Foundation’s German Dissertation Award 2020 for social sciences. The prize, one of the most highly endowed for young researchers from Germany, honours excellent PhD research which […]

Developing a farm for impact model

Shadrack Frimpong has not yet started his PhD, but already his and his team’s work has earned him awards from the Queen, the Clinton Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Foundation. The awards are for their outstanding work in creating a potential new development model for rural crop-growing communities starting from Shadrack’s own village in Ghana. […]

An interdisciplinary approach to major global challenges

Midway through her PhD at Cambridge Molly Crockett and her team discovered a critical role for the neurotransmitter serotonin in regulating social decision-making. “We found that temporarily disrupting serotonin levels made people more willing to punish unfairness,” says Molly. “I had come to Cambridge planning to look at how serotonin affects self-regulation in a broad sense, but […]

Potential breakthrough for bridge failure prediction

What is believed to be the first-ever centrifuge test programme to show how sensitive bridges are to scour – the most common cause of bridge failure around the world – has been conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge.  The tests also found that bridges with deep foundations have higher frequency sensitivity to scour […]

Is Erdogan’s Turkey a blueprint for anti-democratic populism?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey offers a blueprint for how democracies can be taken over by populist movements which seek to destroy them, according to a new study. The study, Antidemocratic populism in power: comparing Erdoğan’s Turkey with Modi’s India and Netanyahu’s Israel, is published in the journal Democratization by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ayala Panievsky and Julius Maximilian Rogenhofer from […]

Targeting cancer drugs more effectively

Muhamad Hartono’s PhD, which he begins in the autumn, will aim to design and synthesise nanoparticles that can selectively target pancreatic cancer cells and deliver anticancer drugs and diagnostic functionality which can improve treatment outcomes.  There is a personal motivation to his work: two years ago his grandmother died from pancreatic cancer while he was […]

Success for robotic arm controlled by eye gaze

A team led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar has designed a robotic arm that can be manipulated by eye movement using a computer interface, aiding many people whose disabilities make it difficult to operate devices such as mouses or joysticks. A research team at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), Indian Institute of […]

Understanding molecular crystals

Niamh O’Neill’s research is fundamental to progress in making high quality and accurate predictions about the properties of molecular crystals. For her PhD she aims to develop methods to model and simulate molecular crystals in more computationally efficient ways than are currently available. “We use highly accurate quantum mechanical methods for smaller systems, but they are […]

The beginnings of child-centred education in Spain

Anna Kathryn Kendrick’s first book, Humanizing Childhood in Early Twentieth Century Spain, was published earlier this year and in it she traces how Spanish neo-humanist education reformers drew upon international models to advance ‘catholic’ notions of holism and universality. It is based on her PhD in Spanish which she completed at the University of Cambridge. […]