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 we must respond differently to the next pandemic

“Lani, are you guys still being paid?” I asked. Lani’s omnipresent smile froze on her face. Her eyes flicked back and forth as though scanning the empty room for people listening in. “Who told you?” she whispered. “I’ve heard rumours,” I said, now whispering like her. Her voice lowered still further, “No, we haven’t been […]

From space exploration to food security: Gates Cambridge at the Cambridge Festival

Over a dozen Gates Cambridge scholars will showcase their research at this year’s Cambridge Festival. The Festival, which runs from 17th March to 2nd April, is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the country, featuring over 360 mostly free events, and showcases cutting edge research across the University of Cambridge and beyond. Gates […]

Identification of disease-causing proteins could prompt new diabetes treatments

New research led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar has identified hundreds of proteins that might contribute to the onset of common, chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and consequently pathways to potential treatments. The study, published in Nature Metabolism, was led by an international research team from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology […]

Social media posts around solar geoengineering ‘spill over’ into conspiracy theories

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath, have analysed more than 800,000 tweets and found that negative emotions expressed about geoengineering – the idea that the climate can be altered using technology – can easily fall into conspiracy. The researchers analysed tweets 2009 and 2021 tagged with #geoengineering. They […]

New translation for Murakami short story

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has translated a short story by leading Japanese author Murakami Haruki into English. Gitte Marianne Hansen [2009] has translated ‘Kanō Kureta’ [加納クレタ], the only one of Murakami’s four short stories with a female narrator which had not previously been published in English. The story was written in 1990. The title is also the […]

First 2023 cohort of Gates Cambridge Scholars announced

Twenty three of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2023 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 24 universities across […]

Films entrench gender inequality in AI

Cinematic depictions of the scientists behind artificial intelligence over the last century are so heavily skewed towards men that a dangerous “cultural stereotype” has been established – one that may contribute to the shortage of women now working in AI development, according to a new study led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Researchers from the […]

Rare genetic disease may protect Ashkenazi Jews against TB

Scientists may have solved the question of why Ashkenazi Jews are significantly more susceptible to a rare genetic disorder known as Gaucher disease – and the answer may help settle the debate about whether they are less susceptible to tuberculosis (TB). In research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Cambridge […]

Lifetime honour for former Provost

Professor Barry Everitt, former Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, has been elected a lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals. AAAS has elected more than 500 scientists, engineers and innovators from around the world and […]

‘Tackle climate change misinformation through computational social science’

Future leaders and researchers need to be urgently trained to tackle climate change misinformation through an interdisciplinary approach that foregrounds computational social science and extends beyond laboratories and university campuses to shape the science-policy interface and rebuild public trust in climate research, according to leading academics. Writing in Nature Human Behaviour, the academics, including Dr Ramit […]