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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

Why livestock support matters to refugees

Humanitarian responders and policy makers need to address the political and practical barriers that mean refugees are excluded from veterinary and agriculture support, heightening the risk of zoonotic disease, according to a new study by a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Dorien Braam’s study, Excluding livestock livelihoods in refugee responses: A risk to public health, is published this […]

The road to better policymaking

David Jun Lee [2021] is keen to demonstrate that there are many ways to have an impact on the world and for him that impact comes through better policymaking. His PhD in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies builds on his experience working at the Central Intelligence Agency both during and after his undergraduate and master’s […]

First cohort of Gates Cambridge Class of 2022 announced

Twenty three of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2022 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge. The US Scholars-elect, who will take up their awards this October, are from a wide range of backgrounds. They come from 23 universities across […]

Gates Cambridge Trust seeks Alumni & Events Officer

Gates Cambridge Scholarships are prestigious, highly competitive full-cost scholarships awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The Gates Cambridge Trust, which manages the scholarship programme, is seeking to appoint an Alumni & Events Officer. If appointed to this role, […]

Using machine learning to understand climate change misinformation

A Gates Cambridge has won a prestigious Alan Turing Enrichment Award to work on public understanding of climate change using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. Ramit Debnath [2018] will use the award to further his research on climate misinformation. He has been working on the Growing the future: Public perception and climate misinformation in emission […]

Understanding developmental disorders through neuroimaging

Will Snyder’s research is focused on understanding what brain scans can tell us about developmental disorders. His PhD, which he began in 2021, centres on the study of brain development through graph theory analyses of brain folding and brain networks. His aim is to contribute to the growing field of precision medicine, advancing treatments for […]

Gates Cambridge Trust seeks new Provost

The Gates Cambridge Trust is seeking to appoint a Provost following the successful tenure of Professor Barry Everitt. The position of the Provost is held for five years in the first instance. The person appointed to the role would be expected to take up the position on 1 October 2022. The role The Provost is […]

Scholar heads to Winter Olympics

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is heading for Beijing where he will coach the Australian mixed doubles curling team in the Winter Olympics. The Australian Olympic Committee announced their selection of Tahli Gill and Dean Hewitt for the mixed doubles curling event at the Winter Olympics over the weekend, and Pete Manasantivongs as their coach. The […]

More trustworthy diagnoses through better algorithms

Mateo Espinosa is interested in exploring the medical applications of machine learning, specifically how machine learning can be used to provide trustworthy and interpretable diagnosis and prognosis predictions. His aim is to understand the decision-making process in order to reduce the room for error and develop better treatments. He says that over the course of […]

Rethinking capitalism through community currencies

Can community currencies enable people to rethink their relationship with money? Lila Gaudêncio’s PhD, which she began this autumn, will explore the impact of community currencies in Brazil, introduced as a public policy by former President Lula’s government in 2003 to protect and develop local economies. Over 150 banks were created as a result, of […]