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

Gates Scholars on Film

We are delighted to present a short film about the scholarships and scholars of the Gates Cambridge Trust. The aim of the film is to showcase the work of the Trust since its inception in 2001. We hope that it will encourage applicants from any part of the world, and in any academic discipline, to […]

Dinosaur meets Gates Scholar

One of the smallest dinosaur skulls ever discovered has been identified by a team of scientists from London, Cambridge and Chicago, including Gates alumna Laura Porro (2004) who is now a post-doc at the University of Chicago. The skull would have been only 45mm long, and belonged to a very young heterodontosaurus, an early dinosaur […]

Ranking forms 2009 entry for University Departments

University Departments and Faculties can use the following links to download forms on which to rank US applicants for entry in October 2009: Applicants for one-year courses Applicants for PhD   If you require the list of applicants in electronic form, please e-mail the Gates Cambridge Trust. We would be grateful if completed ranking forms […]

Gates Scholar wins international Computer Science award

Congratulations to Silvia Breu (PhD in Computer Science, Newnham College) who has been awarded a Google Europe Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for 2008-09. The award is given to European female students of computer science and cybernetics. The rigorous selection criteria include academic performance, leadership within the science and technology community, four short essay questions, and […]

A Provost and his protégés

Dr Gordon Johnson with Gates Scholar Dr Deborah Pino Pasternak, outside the Senate House, Cambridge after the degree ceremony on 19 July 2008 Our Provost Gordon Johnson frequently officiates at degree ceremonies in Senate House, in his capacity as President of Wolfson College. But it is a particular pleasure when the graduands include Gates Scholars […]

Gates Scholar Wins Darwin Correspondence Project Essay Prize

Congratulations to Kathryn Tabb on winning the Darwin Correspondence Project essay prize for her essay ‘Darwin at Orchis Bank’. The competition, which was open to students from all disciplines and stages of education, forms part of an initiative on Darwin and religion started by the Correspondence Project in 2007. Kathryn has just completed her MPhil […]

Pan-scholarship Symposium on Leadership for Positive Change

The first ever pan-scholarship Symposium, organised by Gates Scholars on 23 June this year, was such a success that it is set to become an annual fixture. The event, entitled ‘Leadership for Positive Change’, brought together 60 students from Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall, NIH and Gates scholarship programmes.  Participants engaged in presentations and discussions about leadership […]

Gates Scholar paper published in Science Magazine

Congratulations to Gates Scholar Molly Crockett (2006 entry) for co-authoring a paper on how diet effects decision making, which has been published in Science. Molly, who is based at the department of Experimental Psychology, has co-written the study with Professor Trevor Robbins. For more information on this paper, please see:

Gates Scholar awarded Junior Research Fellowship at Clare College

Congratulations to former Gates Scholar, Dr Colin Russell (2002 – 2006), on being awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Clare College, Cambridge. Colin, who is at the department of Zoology, has recently co-written a paper that was published in Science magazine.

Gates Scholar Wins Prize From Prestigious Law Journal

Congratulations to Gates Scholar Kofi Boakye for winning the 2008 Law and Social Inquiry Graduate Student Paper Competition with his paper Factors Contributing to the Underreporting of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in Ghana: An Exploratory Study.