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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

Developing sustainable SMEs

A Gates Cambridge Scholar will be moderating a panel on future-ready SMEs at the forthcoming World Economic Forum’s “Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2021” beginning on 20th September. Ariel de Fauconberg [2020], who is doing a PhD in Management Studies, will host the session, which previews a report she co-wrote on future-ready SMEs in collaboration with her […]

New in vitro model could predict foetal abnormalities more reliably

A new 3D model of embryonic stem cells called gastruloids could predict whether drugs may cause abnormalities in early embryos more reliably than other in vitro models, according to new research. The researchers, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Veronika Mantziou [2019], have just published their findings in Reproductive Toxicology. Pharmaceuticals intended for pregnant women need […]

Mapping anthrax hot spots

Over 60% of infectious diseases in the world are now zoonotic diseases – diseases that are passed from animals to humans. One of these is anthrax which is a huge problem for farmers in Africa and is highly infectious. Anthrax attacks mainly grazing animals and can kill hundreds of livestock within a very short time […]

New book published on the works of Murakami Haruki

A Gates Cambridge scholar has co-edited a new book on Murakami Haruki, who is considered by many to be Japan’s most high-profile contemporary writer. Gitte Marianne Hansen [2009], now Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies at Newcastle University, has co-edited Murakami Haruki and Our Years of Pilgrimage with Michael Tsang, Lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. The book, […]

UK postgraduates call for urgent action to help Afghan scholars

Gates Cambridge Scholars and other international postgraduate scholars in the UK have written an open letter to the Foreign Secretary urging him to help 35 Afghan Chevening scholars get visas to travel to the UK. Some 249 Gates Cambridge, Marshall, Rhodes and other UK scholars wrote to Dominic Raab on 15th August concerning reports that […]

Court rules that children are owed duty of care over climate change

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been part of the legal team involved in a landmark Australian case with significant implications for climate change litigation. Nicholas Petrie has been working on the Australian Federal Court case which last month declared that the Minister for Environment owed a duty to Australian children to take reasonable care to […]

What drove island living in ancient times?

Dylan Gaffney’s research investigates the crucial link in our understanding of how ancient humans initially migrated through Island Southeast Asia into the Pacific and how they adapted to thrive on small rainforested islands. He says: “I want to know what enabled our species, Homo sapiens, to disperse to a wide variety of new and challenging […]

Refugee aid in a collapsing state

Since late 2019, Dima Krayem has been working to get emergency aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon in the midst of the country’s unprecedented economic and financial collapse. As Senior Project Manager at Lebanon One Unified Inter-Organisational System for E-cards, she has been coordinating life-saving assistance from three UN agencies – the UNHCR, the World […]

Why do we sleep?

What is the function of sleep? What happens when we fall asleep every night and why do we spend so much of our lives essentially parked? These are just some of the questions being addressed by Sridhar Jagannathan’s research. Sri [2015] began his PhD at Cambridge with an interest in how people lose consciousness naturally  […]

How to speak to young people about genocide

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is to present a very personal BBC Radio 4 series on how to educate young people about genocide and mass trauma next week. Alice Musabende [2016] will present Unspeakable, a five-part series which runs from 2-6 August* on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.  Alice is a former journalist from Rwanda, […]