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

The Scholar 2021 goes live

The 2021 edition of The Scholar, the Gates Cambridge magazine, is now out and celebrates the scholarship’s 20th anniversary with many of the articles focused on the theme of memory. For the first time the magazine, which is edited and written by Scholars and Alumni, has gone entirely online. Fang Liu [2020], editor of The […]

‘People more afraid of catching Covid-19 are more judgemental’

Researchers studying how we make moral judgements have found that people more concerned about catching Covid-19 were more disapproving of the wrong-doings of others, whatever they were doing wrong. The researchers, including first author Robert Henderson [2018], say their findings are evidence that our morality is shaped by various emotions and intuitions, of which concerns […]

How journalists respond to anti-media populism

Many journalists have adopted a policy of leaning to the right in the face of anti-media populism, according to a new study based on the situation in Israel. The study, The Strategic Bias: How Journalists Respond to Antimedia Populism,  published in the International Journal of Press/Politics, is by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ayala Panievsky. It looks […]

A shared history of ideas

Nick Posegay has just been awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Cambridge’s Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies for a project on “Interfaith Exchange in the Intellectual History of Middle Eastern Languages”. The three-year fellowship follows his PhD on the religious and linguistic multiculturalism of the medieval Middle East. The Fellowship will involve […]

Policy for a green recovery

Christian Boehm [2013] has had a busy year. In 2019 he joined Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research to help build a sustainable bioeconomy based on renewable resources and biotechnology, moving from academia to government. However, in March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic took a foothold in Europe, he was assigned to a new […]

Data science with a social mission

Diana Pirjol [2011], did her MPhil in Public Health and is now Executive Director of the Human Data Insight (HDI) Group, a next generation of data analytics and data science company with a social mission to provide organisations with affordable and high quality consulting services and support the development of next generation social entrepreneurs. She […]

From Plant Sciences to biotech start-ups

From an early age, Vaibhav Bhardwaj [2012] was taught the value of attention to detail and of using every opportunity to learn more about how the world works. His Biology teacher at secondary school would regularly say to him ‘you cannot commit to memory what you do not understand.’ It’s an approach that has stood […]

Closing gender gaps for good

How has Covid affected gender equality and what can we do to bridge the widening gap? On Tuesday three outstanding scholars in the area and Anita Zaidi, president of the Gates Foundation’s Gender Equality Division, spoke at Closing Gaps for Good: Ensuring Equitable Recovery in a Post-Pandemic World, a panel discussion organised to celebrate the […]

First spaceflight for Gates Cambridge Scholar

Gates Cambridge Scholar Kayla Barron will make her first spaceflight later this year after NASA announced that it has assigned her to serve as a mission specialist for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station. The mission is due to launch on October 23rd. Kayla became a NASA astronaut in January 2020 […]

Weekend of Research 2021 focuses on major global challenges

Thirteen Gates Cambridge Scholars at the annual Gates Cambridge Weekend of Research in early May took part in panel discussions on the environment and migration, global justice and democracy and Artificial Intelligence and technology. The subjects covered ranged from legacies of oppression and revolution in Myanmar to a call to radically scale down gold mining. […]