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

Manipulating flexibility to increase survival in the city

Researchers have discovered a trait in certain urban birds that may enable them to adapt to – and possibly be trained to adapt to – human-induced environmental change. The researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and the University of California Santa Barbara, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Dr Corina Logan [2008], studied a successful […]

Adopting inclusive strategies on climate change in rural areas

Albert Arhin is a climate change and sustainability research fellow in Ghana where he also leads on a major climate adaptation project. His work as a researcher, lecturer and consultant aims to improve the lives of rural communities by increasing the effectiveness of conservation and sustainability policies and projects, ensuring that everyone is on board and […]

Getting children back to school in Pakistan

In April Pakistan’s education minister declared that the country has the highest number of out of school children in the world. According to UNICEF data, approximately 22.8 million children aged 5-16 in Pakistan do not attend school, accounting for 44 percent of the population of this age. The declaration came the year after months of […]

Scholar co-stars in comedy sketch show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A late-night comedy parodying Ed Sheeran’s rise to stardom, co-starring, co-written and co-directed by Gates Cambridge Scholar Alex Mentzel, is premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  Accompanied by a glittering live band and fresh from a sold-out London run, Ed: the new, totally unofficial, ginger-inclusive parody sketch show plays 4-19 August at ZOO Playground. […]

Towards a Netflix for cancer treatment

The aim of Ping Lin Yeap’s research is to “create a Netflix for cancer treatment”, he says. By that he means that he wants to personalise cancer treatment, ensuring that it is able to adapt a patient’s radiotherapy plan based on how their anatomy changes on any given day. Cancer can lead to weight loss […]

Scholar captains University Challenge team

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is the captain of a University Challenge team which will feature in the new BBC series that airs from next week. Ryan Kang [2022] is captaining the Trinity College team on the first episode of the new series of the long-standing university quiz, which first aired in 1962. This season Amol […]

Study sheds new light on enigmatic ancient snake

Paleontologists have moved a step closer to understanding the life of an enigmatic ancient snake that roamed South America between 16 to 5 million years ago, a geologic epoch known as Middle to Late Miocene. Colombophis, which means “snake of Colombia” in Greek, is an extinct genus of snakes closely related to extant American pipe […]

How print revitalised the works of Geoffrey Chaucer

The first extended study of the reception of Chaucer’s medieval manuscripts in the early modern period offers a fascinating historical precedent for how the move from traditional to digital books can accommodate the new while revitalising the old.   The book, Chaucer’s Early Modern Readers: Reception in Print and Manuscript, by Gates Cambridge Scholar Devani Singh […]

Making arbitration work better

When he was studying law, Leonardo Souza-McMurtrie discovered arbitration. He took to it immediately and could see the possibilities it presented in his home town of Manaus where it was virtually unheard of despite offering huge benefits to companies.  He set up an NGO, while still a student, to persuade companies and law firms of […]

Questioning the anti-FGM movement

In 2012, in her first year at university Mamasa Camara set up a women’s health conference in the Gambia to create a space for women to talk about the issues that mattered to them and to hear their views on female genital cutting.  Since then she has seen how the global campaign against female genital […]