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

Widening access through MOOCs

People without college degrees perform better at entry-level MOOCs specifically designed to increase access to university enrolment, researchers have found. The study, The  Promise  of  MOOCs  Revisited?  Demographics  of  Learners  Preparing  for University, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Mike Meaney [2016], has just been published in the Journal of Learning Analytics. It is the first time […]

Scholar on Clinton Foundation initiative panel

Gates Cambridge Scholar Shadrack Frimpong has spoken on a panel chaired by former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Clinton Global Initiative University. Shadrack participated in a session on 4th March in Nashville, chaired by Clinton, on Protecting the Rights of Girls and Women During Conflict and Uncertainty. He spoke about the need to combine academic […]

Peace through gender equality

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has co-authored a book on how best to engage more men in gender equality. William McInerney is co-author of Das Buch, Das Jeder Mann Lesen Sollte: In 4 Schritten zum Feministen [The Book that Every Man Should Read: 4 Steps to Becoming a Feminist], which has just been released in Germany. […]

Telling the story of climate science

How do you tell the story of climate science and why does it matter? These are questions that Sarah Dry [2003] is grappling with. In her work on the history of science, biography has always been key. Through it she is trying to show the connections between the personal lives of scientists and the work […]

Why we must respond differently to the next pandemic

“Lani, are you guys still being paid?” I asked. Lani’s omnipresent smile froze on her face. Her eyes flicked back and forth as though scanning the empty room for people listening in. “Who told you?” she whispered. “I’ve heard rumours,” I said, now whispering like her. Her voice lowered still further, “No, we haven’t been […]

From space exploration to food security: Gates Cambridge at the Cambridge Festival

Over a dozen Gates Cambridge scholars will showcase their research at this year’s Cambridge Festival. The Festival, which runs from 17th March to 2nd April, is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the country, featuring over 360 mostly free events, and showcases cutting edge research across the University of Cambridge and beyond. Gates […]

Identification of disease-causing proteins could prompt new diabetes treatments

New research led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar has identified hundreds of proteins that might contribute to the onset of common, chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and consequently pathways to potential treatments. The study, published in Nature Metabolism, was led by an international research team from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology […]

Social media posts around solar geoengineering ‘spill over’ into conspiracy theories

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath, have analysed more than 800,000 tweets and found that negative emotions expressed about geoengineering – the idea that the climate can be altered using technology – can easily fall into conspiracy. The researchers analysed tweets 2009 and 2021 tagged with #geoengineering. They […]

New translation for Murakami short story

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has translated a short story by leading Japanese author Murakami Haruki into English. Gitte Marianne Hansen [2009] has translated ‘Kanō Kureta’ [加納クレタ], the only one of Murakami’s four short stories with a female narrator which had not previously been published in English. The story was written in 1990. The title is also the […]

First 2023 cohort of Gates Cambridge Scholars announced

Twenty three of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2023 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge.   The US Scholars-elect, who will take up their awards this October, are from a wide range of backgrounds. They come from 24 universities across […]