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

Gates Cambridge launches podcast

Gates Cambridge is launching its first official podcast next week. So, now what? is for anyone looking for ideas, vision and optimism about how we can practically tackle some of the world’s most complex and challenging problems. Scholars from a range of different backgrounds and disciplines will share the actions they are taking to change […]

Decentring knowledge

Gates Cambridge Scholar Aliya Khalid [2015], who did her PhD in Education and is currently based at the University of Oxford, has co-edited a book which seeks to dismantle the deficit discourses generated through research about people as agency-less and, by extension, objects of study. The Politics of Silence, Voice and the In-Between: Exploring Gender, […]

Advocating open science

Maria Pawlowska has gone from doing science to making science research more easily available to all, both in Europe and now in Canada.   Her commitment to science started with an early fascination with palaeontology, fuelled by trips to the Smithsonian Institute and a high quality, less formal approach to teaching in elementary school in the […]

Building bridges between researchers and industry

Climate change is causing more frequent floods and adverse weather events, accelerating the deterioration of bridges and buildings and shortening their lifespan. But what if we could counter this by using advanced monitoring technologies to gain a better understanding of their condition and improve their maintenance? That is what drives Kasun Kariyawasam’s ground-breaking work in […]

Gates Cambridge seeks Programme Assistant

About us  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. Gates Cambridge Scholars become part of a lifelong global community defined by its core value of commitment to improving the […]

The art of storytelling

When Jakub Szamałek started writing the first in a series of crime novels set in ancient times while he was doing his PhD in Classics he can little have imagined the success the novels would have and how his writing career would develop.  He has not only had critical success in Poland as a fiction […]

Inclusive conservation

Rohini Chaturvedi finished her PhD at a difficult time for many students – in the midst of the global economic crisis of the early 2010s. But through a combination of hard work, initiative and serendipity she has found an impressive way to extend the work she did at Cambridge to promote conservation efforts in India. […]

Research impact award for Gates Cambridge Scholar

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is one of two winners of the 2023 Sandra Dawson Research Impact Award for his work on the economics of climate change earlier this month. The annual award was established through a generous donation from Professor Dame Sandra Dawson, a former Director of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. Winners are chosen based […]

AI system self-organises to resemble brains of complex organisms

A team of Cambridge scientists, co-led by a Gates Cambridge Scholar, have shown that placing physical constraints on an artificially-intelligent system – in much the same way that the human brain has to develop and operate within physical and biological constraints – allows it to develop features of the brains of complex organisms in order […]

Scholar wins history of science & medicine essay prize

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious essay competition about the history of early science with a treatise on evidence of knowledge exchange between the Ming-Chinese and Iberian conventions in the 16th century. The essay competition was run by the Early Sciences Forum of the History of Science Society and the Early Science and Medicine journal […]