Benjamin Cocanougher

Benjamin Cocanougher

  • Scholar
  • 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

Is Erdogan’s Turkey a blueprint for anti-democratic populism?

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey offers a blueprint for how democracies can be taken over by populist movements which seek to destroy them, according to a new study. The study, Antidemocratic populism in power: comparing Erdoğan’s Turkey with Modi’s India and Netanyahu’s Israel, is published in the journal Democratization by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ayala Panievsky and Julius Maximilian Rogenhofer from […]

Targeting cancer drugs more effectively

Muhamad Hartono’s PhD, which he begins in the autumn, will aim to design and synthesise nanoparticles that can selectively target pancreatic cancer cells and deliver anticancer drugs and diagnostic functionality which can improve treatment outcomes.  There is a personal motivation to his work: two years ago his grandmother died from pancreatic cancer while he was […]

Success for robotic arm controlled by eye gaze

A team led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar has designed a robotic arm that can be manipulated by eye movement using a computer interface, aiding many people whose disabilities make it difficult to operate devices such as mouses or joysticks. A research team at the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), Indian Institute of […]

Understanding molecular crystals

Niamh O’Neill’s research is fundamental to progress in making high quality and accurate predictions about the properties of molecular crystals. For her PhD she aims to develop methods to model and simulate molecular crystals in more computationally efficient ways than are currently available. “We use highly accurate quantum mechanical methods for smaller systems, but they are […]

The beginnings of child-centred education in Spain

Anna Kathryn Kendrick’s first book, Humanizing Childhood in Early Twentieth Century Spain, was published earlier this year and in it she traces how Spanish neo-humanist education reformers drew upon international models to advance ‘catholic’ notions of holism and universality. It is based on her PhD in Spanish which she completed at the University of Cambridge. […]

Secrets of naked mole-rats’ cancer resistance uncovered

Naked mole-rats can live for an incredibly long time and have an exceptional resistance to cancer thanks to unique conditions in their bodies that stop cancer cells multiplying, according to new research led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Understanding how these remarkable animals are almost completely immune to cancer could improve our understanding of the […]

Bird conservation in Bangladesh

Scholar-Elect Sayam Chowdhury is studying the shorebirds of Bangladesh’s coastal areas and the impact of climate change on their conservation.

Tackling food insecurity

Stella Nordhagen’s job at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition aims to understand the causes of food insecurity and find solutions.

The Deviant’s War

Eric Cervini’s first book has already joined the New York Times’ Best Seller list, the first LGBTQ+ history book to make it to the list in 27 years.

Florentine ‘spy’ uncovered as designer of historic German palace

New research by Davide Martino shows that the Weimar Residenzschloss was designed by a Medici spy.