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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

Gates Cambridge Scholars’ Distinguished Lecture: Professor Joshua Silver gives lecture on adaptive eye technology in the developing world

Professor Joshua Silver gives his Gates Scholars Distinguished Lecture entitled ‘How we do we really bring vision corrective to those that need it in the developing world?’. The lecture was held at the Cambridge Union Society on 3 February 2010.

Gates Scholars’ Distinguished Lecture: Film director and writer, Rupert Isaacson, talks about his film ‘The Horse Boy’

Film director and writer, Rupert Isaacson, speaks about his experience filming The Horse Boy at a Gates Scholars’ Distinguished Lecture held on 14 January 2010 .

Gates Scholars’ Distinguished Lecture: Barack Obama’s New Media Director talks digital media in politics and beyond

Barack Obama’s New Media Director discusses the lessons learned from the US presidential campaign at a distinguished lecture in Cambridge.

New Gates Scholars selected for 2010

The full cohort of Gates Scholars for 2010 has now been selected, following the second round of interviews in Cambridge last week. See here for information about the selection process, interviews, and for information about the new Scholars. If you applied for a Gates Scholarship, but have not been successful, your papers will now automatically […]

Gates Scholar interviewed on Naked Scientist radio show

Gates Scholar Niraj Lal (2008) was recently interviewed on the Naked Scientist radio show. The award winning BBC weekly radio programme reaches a potential audience of 6 million listeners across the east of England, and also has an international following on the web. Niraj is researching plasmonic enhanced low-cost photovoltaics – using some new physics […]

Gates Cambridge Scholar Profile – Siza Mtimbiri

A four minute profile of Siza Mtimbiri, a current Gates Scholar from Zimbabwe undertaking a PhD in Education at St Edmunds’ College. Siza is working on the nexus between education and HIV/AIDS and hopes to return to Zimbabwe to use the skills he gains at Cambridge.

Gates Cambridge Scholar Profile – Rajiv Chowdury

A four minute profile of Rajiv Chowdury, a current Gates Scholar from Bangladesh undertaking a PhD in Public Health.

Gates Cambridge Scholar Profile – Rachel Pike

A four minute profile of Gates Scholar Rachel who works in the Centre for Atmospheric Science studying the effects of large scale biofuel production on atmospheric chemistry. Rachel hopes to find out what a (partially) biomass-dependent energy future will mean for our climate and air quality, as realized in a global chemistry-climate model.

Bill and Melinda Gates meet with Gates Cambridge Scholars

A 12 minute film from June 2009 when Bill and Melinda Gates came to Cambridge to meet with Gates Cambridge Scholars.

Gates Scholar wins prestigious NASA fellowship

Caitlin Casey (2007) – a recent Gates alumna – has been awarded the prestigious Hubble Fellowship to pursue her research at the University of Hawai’i. The Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute – which awards the fellowships – said “the recently selected Hubble Fellows represent the ‘best of the best’, a new generation of […]