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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

New model can predict brain injury recovery more accurately

The families of patients with traumatic brain injury typically get little information about the recovery possibilities for their loved one aside from whether they will live or die. However, a new study has come up with a new model for predicting to what extent a person will recover. The study, “The leap to ordinal: Detailed […]

Addressing food insecurity through plant science

Anoop Tripathi [2022] is one of the few people in the world who have experience of using a newly developed technique of cereal grafting and hybridisation which could help save some crops threatened by climate change and disease. As Senior Research Laboratory Technician at the University of Cambridge he has been working on the new […]

Taking a critical approach to precision oncology

Precision medicine offers huge possibilities for patients with cancer, but we risk in some cases falling for hype and spin if we do not take a critical approach and ask the right questions about what it is for, what its limits are and how we communicate that to patients, according to Ben Chin-Yee [2022].  His […]

‘Glaring’ lack of diversity identified in journal editorial teams

Only a third of editors on journal editorial teams in environmental sciences and public health are women and less than a quarter are affiliated to institutions in low- and middle- income countries, according to a new study. The study, “Challenging the “Old Boys Club” in Academia: Gender and Geographic Representation in Editorial Boards of Journals […]

Exploring at the intersection of humanities and technology

Alex Mentzel has lived many careers and he’s still only in the first part of his life. Brought up in a musical family, he worked as an actor in film, tv and musical theatre, co-founded an app that aims to provide accurate and potentially life-saving information to people living in conflict zones and is now […]

Gates Cambridge announces new Provost

The Gates Cambridge Trust is delighted to announce that its new Provost – its first female leader – will be Professor Eilís Ferran. Professor Ferran has a wealth of experience both as a distinguished academic and as a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations. She succeeds Professor Barry Everitt as Provost on 1st October […]

Scholar selected as member of Junge Akademie

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been admitted to Germany’s prestigious Die Junge Akademie. Andrea Binder is one of 10 new members to be admitted to the academy.  It provides interdisciplinary and socially relevant spaces for outstanding young academics from German-speaking countries. Die Junge Akademie was founded in 2000 as a joint project of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and […]

Cairo Genizah texts ‘could illuminate the history of late Ottoman Egypt’

The Cairo Genizah – a repository of hundreds of thousands of manuscripts that the Jewish residents of Old Cairo produced and consumed in the pre-modern period – also contains hundreds of texts from as late as the 19th century, some of which hold important information about the late Ottoman era, according to a new study. The […]

What accounts for humans’ higher cognitive skills?

New research shows how the human brain processes information in ways that support higher cognitive functions than animals. The study, on which Gates Cambridge Scholar Andrea Luppi [2019] is first author, has just been published in Nature Neuroscience. The researchers used tools from information theory to analyse brain data in humans and other primates and […]

Artificial Intelligence applications in critical care

A Gates Cambridge Scholar will be presenting on his research findings at the BrainX Community Live event this week. Shubhayu Bhattacharyay [2021] will be speaking about Artificial Intelligence applications in critical care, with a focus on computational decoding of motion time series in critically ill patients with severe brain injury. this relates to a recent […]