Dr Rachel Coats

Dr Rachel Coats


I joined the University of Leeds as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2012, before taking up a lectureship in Psychology in 2014. I have a BA(Hons) degree in Psychology from the University of Aberdeen (2004), and an MSc in Research Methods in Psychology (2005) and PhD (2009) in Psychology from the University of Reading. I completed several years working as a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University, USA, before joining the University of Leeds.


  • Deputy Chair of School Ethics Committee

Research interests

My research is largely focused on sensorimotor control and the importance of vision for action.  I have experience quantifying human movement in both lab-based and clinical environments, and extensive experience with motion capture of aiming and prehension movements. I'm particularly interested in ageing, and tracking disease progression in clinical populations.  

Current projects include

  1. exploring new ways to measure disease progression in people with Multiple Sclerosis as current clinical measures lack granularity and objectivity;
  2. investigating the effects of second-eye cataract surgery on visual and motor function as certain clinical commissioning groups are restricting access to surgery based on arbitrary visual thresholds.  

The work mentioned above has led me to become interested in ageing more generally, as so many things (e.g. visual function) can affect quality of life. I am now looking at loneliness and the stigma surrounding it, and predictors of successful ageing and whether these vary across cultures.  I co-lead the School’s Motion Capture (MoCAP) Lab and am also a member of the Immersive Cognition (ICON) Lab and the University's Reimagine Ageing Horizon Steering Group, leading the “Inclusive approaches to promoting independence health and wellbeing” core theme.  


  • PhD Psychology
  • MSc Research Methods in Psychology
  • BA (Hons) Psychology

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Student education

I teach at all levels on programmes within the School of Psychology, from Level 1 to Masters. This teaching is oriented around my research interests in ageing and motor control, across typical and atypical populations. I also supervise projects at Level 3 and Masters levels, and act as a personal tutor to groups of students each year.  I lead a final year UG module on ageing which I love. It’s called Biopsychosocial Issues in Ageing which allows me to share anything I want to that is ageing-related with the students!  I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) 

Research groups and institutes

  • Perception, action, cognition
  • Successful ageing
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//phd.leeds.ac.uk/project/1990-the-development-of-low-cost,-portable-and-objective-tools-for-measuring-upper-limb-function-in-multiple-sclerosis">The development of low-cost, portable and objective tools for measuring upper limb function in Multiple Sclerosis</a></li>