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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

New model developed for understanding biomolecular condensates

Our planet contains an outstandingly diverse population of species, from plants and animals, to microbes and viruses. Yet not all species are found everywhere, but rather, smaller subsets of them occupy different geographical regions, creating a wide-range of co-existing microenvironments that thrive under different climates and function in unique ways. The same can be said […]

Scholars win White House Fellowship

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars have won prestigious White House Fellowships meaning they will work full time for White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other senior government officials for a year. Tom Barron and Victoria Herrmann are among the 19 Fellows on the programme, which was set up by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 with […]

Report highlights healthcare challenges in Gaza

Patients and carers seeking to access the healthcare system in Gaza are confronted with severe shortages of drugs and equipment and constant threats to their physical safety as well as a lack of organisational transparency and accountability, according to an important new report.  “The Political Economy of Health in the Gaza Strip (Occupied Palestinian Territory)”  […]

New method for studying role of TEs in genetic changes

A new study reports a novel technique for studying the development of transposable elements in genetic information which can lead to genetic diseases and cancer. The study, ‘Locus-specific expression of transposable elements in single cells with CELLO-seq’, is published in Nature Biotechnology. Lead author is Rebecca Berrens [2012]. It addresses the role of transposable elements [TEs] and […]

Using data to make a difference

Alexandra Mannerings set up her data analytics business Merakinos in February, but her ambition is much bigger than simply running a consultancy. She wants to help small businesses and non profit organisations increase their impact by helping them harness the power of data, something many often can’t afford to do. Her aim is to set […]

New study focuses on role of serotonin in adapting to new environments

Lowering serotonin levels in humans impairs their ability to adapt their emotions and behaviour to changing environments which could have important implications for mental health issues and their treatment, according to a new study. The study, led by Jonathan Kanen [2015], is published in the prestigious journal Molecular Psychiatry. It is his third first author […]

Designing a VR cockpit for India’s space mission

A Gates Cambridge Scholar will be principal investigator in the design of a virtual reality cockpit for India’s maiden human space flight mission. Pradipta Biswas is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing the Indian Institute of Science which has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the  Indian Space Research Organisation to design the cockpit. The first Indian crewed mission was originally planned […]

Blast off for scholar as she heads into space

Gates Cambridge Alumna Kayla Barron is among four astronauts who will lift off in the next few days as they head towards the International Space Station for a six-month science mission. The four astronauts will blast off on the SpaceX Crew Dragon and will dock to the space station. This is the third crew rotation […]

Ed-tech wins Gates Foundation funding for access work

An ed-tech non-profit co-founded by a Gates Cambridge Scholar has received a $980,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop its free college affordability tool. Moneythink, co-founded by Greg Nance who is also its Board Chair, says the money will help it to accelerate the development and reach of DecidED, its free […]

Gates Cambridge: a purposeful community

As the Gates Cambridge Scholarship reaches the end of its 20th anniversary year, its alumni association is holding an event late this month which celebrates some of the factors that have shaped the scholar community. That sense of community, of a global network of leaders, developed and owned by the scholars and alumni themselves, is […]