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 Annual Report published

The Gates Cambridge Trust’s Annual Report 2021 is now available. It includes a summary of the Trust’s work during the year and the impact of our scholars and alumni in Cambridge and across the world. You can also read about our 20th anniversary celebrations, the many activities of our scholars and alumni, our impact in […]

Scholar one of 28 to win Carnegie Fellowship

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been named as one of the 2022 Class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. Jonathan Corpus Ong, Associate Professor of Global Digital Media at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of 28 exceptional scholars, journalists and authors who will receive $200,000 stipends. The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program, founded in 2015, involves […]

Gates Cambridge Class of 2022 announced

The Gates Cambridge Class of 2022 made up of 79 outstanding new scholars has been officially announced. The Gates Cambridge scholarship programme is the University of Cambridge’s flagship international postgraduate scholarship programme. It was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000; this […]

A nasal and oral spray that aims to reduce Covid transmission and severity

An oral and nasal spray that aims to give added protection against Covid-19 has been developed by a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Dr Vijay Kanuru, a Pune-based nanotech inventor and scientist, has developed the world’s first nano-curcumin-based oral and nasal sprays that protect against Covid-19 infection. Amid another wave of Omicron cases, with many who have […]

How parent-child conversations affect children’s ability to self-regulate

Before she started her PhD, Mishika Mehrotra [2021] was working as an Instructor Therapist with children with autism. Her role involved implementing a behavioural therapy programme for the children, who were non-verbal.  The programme led to an improvement in the children’s language and academic abilities, their ability to take care of themselves, to communicate via […]

A stethoscope for the brain

A Gates Cambridge Scholar is fundraising to publish a book about proactive strategies to prevent brain diseases. Ayan Mandal’s book A Stethoscope for the Brain aims to explain why brain diseases are so difficult to treat and what research is being done to learn how to better manage these conditions. Ayan [2018], who is currently a medical […]

Investigating climate policy at the third pole

Samira Patel [2022] is interested in how climate change-related policy works best in different community settings. Her PhD in Polar Studies, which she begins in the autumn, will investigate the links between policymaking in the Arctic and the Himalayan region, also referred to as ‘the third pole’. It will build on her master’s, also at […]

A poetic approach to research

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has turned to poetry to get her research across to a wider audience and her poems will go on display at this year’s Cambridge Festival. Mona Jebril [2012] has experimented with various different forms to get her research across to a broader group of people, from animation and comic illustrations to […]

Keeping music alive in the ruins of war

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has initiated a book drive to deliver music books to students at the Institute of Fine Arts in Mosul, Northern Iraq, after all their libraries and books were destroyed by ISIS. Collin Edouard [pictured below left] set up the Music for Mosul project after being invited to Iraq by a friend, […]

Previously undetected population complexity found in human lymphoid tissue B cells

B cells produce antibodies and play a vital role in human immunity. Despite the importance of these cells, there are still a lot of questions about the role of B cells in normal human tissues and how they are involved in various diseases. Gates Cambridge Scholar Jacqueline Siu’s study, Two subsets of human marginal zone […]