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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

Scholars scoop three social impact awards

Three Gates Cambridge Scholars have been recognised with awards from the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. The 15 Social Impact Awards in six categories were launched for the first time by Cambridge Hub in 2018-19, to celebrate students who have shown exceptional achievement in, and commitment to, creating positive social change. Since then, […]

Report highlights fatal health risk of climate change in Europe

Climate change is here, in Europe, and it kills. This is the warning of 69 contributors of the 2024 Europe report of the Lancet Countdown, published today in the Lancet Public Health and led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Kim Van Daalen [2018]. Tracking the links between climate change and health across the region, the new […]

Tracing the role of transposable elements in disease

What causes genetic disease? Rebecca Berrens’ research focuses on transposable elements or transposons, pieces of DNA formed as a result of ancient viruses that inserted into our genome. These can damage genes when they are active in the early stages of human development because they are able to move about the genome.  This can result […]

Celebrating a new home for Gates Cambridge

The Gates Cambridge family celebrated the opening of the new Bill Gates Sr. House last week. Former Provosts, Vice-Chancellors, trustees, staff and Gates Cambridge Scholars from across the years as well as representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gathered to inaugurate the new state-of-the-art building which brings together scholars and staff for the […]

Bill Gates Sr Prize 2024 awarded

An outstanding scholar who has led efforts to strengthen the Gates Cambridge community has won this year’s Bill Gates Sr Prize in recognition of the way he exemplifies the Gates Cambridge values.  Stephen Metcalf [2019] has been selected for the prize which was established by the Gates Cambridge Trustees in June 2012 in recognition of […]

A new home for Gates Cambridge

The Gates Cambridge Trust is officially opening Bill Gates Sr. House, a multi-million-pound, state-of-the-art, sustainable building in central Cambridge, at an event today [3rd May] which includes an oral history film of the University of Cambridge’s prestigious scholarship programme. The building is a tribute to Bill Gates Sr.’s seminal role in establishing the Gates Cambridge […]

From digital accessibility to space flight

Pradipta Biswas was very short-sighted as a young child and that meant his ability to travel around or play outdoors was heavily restricted. That early experience, he says, “created a force in me to overcome barriers for myself and others so that physical impairments shouldn’t stop people from achieving their dreams”. It has driven his […]

21st century curator

Even while he was doing his PhD in art history, Julien Domercq was not only getting involved in the British art scene, he was curating one of the biggest art exhibitions of the day. Julien [2013] had taken up a two-year entry-level contract at the National Gallery a couple of years into his PhD on […]

Understanding migrant stories

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars are collaborating on a new research, story-telling and advocacy enterprise which aims to record journeys of migration, amplify the voices of migrants and build empathy for the growing number of people who are displaced or have to leave their country. Noor Shahzad, founder at Migration Collective, became interested in the stories […]

Gates Cambridge Class of 2024 announced

The Gates Cambridge Class of 2024 made up of 75 outstanding new scholars has been officially announced. The Gates Cambridge scholarship programme is the University of Cambridge’s flagship international postgraduate scholarship programme. It was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Since […]