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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

Undoing the erasure of Black women’s lives

Anna Malaika Tubbs always wanted to be a public intellectual – to speak up for Black women whose lives have been erased from public view and to talk to the general public about gender, race, sociology and anthropology in ways that are accessible. Having been a student activist and having taught black feminist theory to […]

Review highlights advances in study of early human development

Pluripotent stem cells-based models serve as an excellent tool to study early human development, given that legislation forbids using human embryos to do so, according to a review. The review, published in the journal Developmental Biology, is co-authored by Gates Cambridge Scholar Veronika Mantziou [2019], who is doing a PhD in Developmental Biology. The study, […]

Research reveals psychological ‘signature’ for the extremist mind

Researchers have mapped an underlying “psychological signature” for people who are predisposed to holding extreme social, political or religious attitudes and support violence in the name of ideology. A new study, led by Gates Cambridge Alumna Dr Leor Zmigrod [2016], suggests that a particular mix of personality traits and unconscious cognition – the ways our […]

Investigating the factors that make cell condensates stable

Like the British Library with its 170 million specimens, the interior of a cell contains a myriad of different proteins and other biomolecules that need to be carefully catalogued in order for the cell to function correctly. Apart from the nucleus and other well-known cellular compartments that catalogue groups of proteins by enclosing them with […]

Small impact of public private partnership schools on public school enrollment

Placing a public private partnership school near a public school has a relatively minor impact on public school enrollment, according to a new study carried out in Pakistan. Pakistan has the second highest number of out of school children between the ages of five and 16 in the world. In the province of Punjab, Pakistan’s […]

21st Century Body Politics

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been awarded a fellowship to produce a podcast series on 21st century body politics. Ronja Griep has been awarded a Cambridge Centre for International Research grant to produce a six-episode podcast series which showcases research on body politics to a wider public and current school pupils considering university. Ronja, who […]

First cohort of Gates Cambridge Class of 2021 announced

Twenty four of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2021 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge in the Scholarship’s 20th anniversary year. The US Scholars-elect, who will take up their awards this October, are from a wide range of backgrounds. […]

Scholars launch first Teach-a-thon

Twenty seven scholars are taking part in the first Gates Cambridge online Teach-a-thon which aims to inspire secondary students who have been affected by Covid-related school closures. The scholars will share their knowledge about a broad range of subjects in a series of free, interactive 20-minute taster sessions. Gates Cambridge is the University of Cambridge’s […]

‘Girls’ preference for pink is not innate’

Children’s preference for pink or blue is a cultural phenomenon and girls do not have an innate preference for pink, according to a new study. The study, whose first author is Gates Cambridge Scholar Jac Davis [2014], has just been published in the journal Child Development. It compares young children in three locations – remote […]

A spiritual awakening in verse

Arazi Pinhas’ new book is inspired by a profound process of spiritual development that he underwent at Cambridge which taught him about himself and his place in the world. Wisdom of a Mystic: Spiritual Wisdom from a Kundalini Awakening is described as an invitation “to look inward, to the depths of consciousness, as a way […]