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

Gates Alumnus wins a Royal Society University Research Fellowship

Congratulations to Gates Alumnus Colin Russell (PhD Zoology 2002) for winning the prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship. To find out more about this fellowship please see

Glucose and Diabetes: Gates Scholars co-author article in The Lancet

Congratulations to Sreenivasa Rao Kondapally Seshesai and Sebhat Erqou on their co-authored article in last week’s issue of The Lancet, one of the UK’s leading medical journals. Their work, on the effect of intensive control of glucose on cardiovascular outcomes and death in patients with diabetes mellitus, found that overall, intensive as opposed to standard […]

Distinguished Lecture Series: Mr Mohammed Amin

Distinguished Lecture Series: Mr Mohammed Amin “Would Islamic Finance Have Prevented the Global Financial Crisis?”   Mohammed Amin currently serves as the UK Head of Islamic Finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the largest accounting firm in the UK. Amin was born in Pakistan but has lived in the UK since 1952. Although his parents were both […]

Easter Term Internal Symposium Program Announced

It is our pleasure to announce the programme for the 2009 Easter Term Gates Internal Symposium. Every term, the Internal subcommittee on the Gates Scholars’ Council organizes a symposium in which scholars have the opportunity to discuss their own research and interests with the wider scholar community in a friendly and informal setting. The 2009 […]

Distinguished Lecture Series: Rabbi Dr. Tvi Hersh Weinreb

Distinguished Lecture Series: Rabbi Dr. Tvi Hersh Weinreb “Can a creation-based religion be consistent with science and evolution?” A leading member of the Orthodox Union addresses whether a creation-based religion can be consistent with science and evolution at a lecture on 2nd February 2009. The talk at the Cambridge Union Society Debating Chamber by Rabbi […]

Distinguished Lecture Series: Vice-Chancellor Alison Richard

Distinguished Lecture Series: Vice-Chancellor Alison Richard “Cambridge and the Environment” Professor Alison Richard was installed as the 344th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 2003. The Vice-Chancellor is the principal academic and administrative officer of the University, and Professor Richard is the first woman to hold the position full-time. An anthropologist with a first […]

Distinguished Lecture Series: Ms Cathy Grieve

Distinguished Lecture Series: Ms Cathy Grieve “A Changing Media World”   Ms Grieve, a highly distinguished journalist, served as the Ireland producer for BBC News during much of the 1990s and helped create BBC News Online/Interactive. Among her many accolades, she has been recognized with the Royal Television Society Award for her coverage of the […]

Gates Scholars win Lowry Prize in consecutive terms

An update on our most recent news story. Congratulations are now due to both Vijay Kanuru, who won the prestigious Lowry Prize in the Department of Chemistry in Michaelmas Term, and Rachel Pike, who has won it in Lent Term. The prize is awarded for the best graduate seminar in physical chemistry. The prize is […]

New 2009 Gates Scholars anounced

The Trust is delighted to announce that 90 Gates Cambridge Scholarships have been awarded to outstanding young men and women from 32 countries to pursue graduate study and research at the University of Cambridge from October 2009. Full details are available New Scholars 2009 page.

Gates Virtual Coffeehouse on Youth Social Entrepreneurship – 23 May 2009

5:00 – 6:15 PM BST/ 12:00 – 1:15 PM EST/ 9:00 – 10:15 AM PST Panelist Bios Registration This conference is free and open to the public.   Synopsis Increasingly, youth around the world are taking it upon themselves to engage social challenges and effect positive community change.  A new generation of socially responsible ventures […]