Our team

Natalie James Photo

Dr Natalie James

Director, Consultant and Coach

Supporting others to develop in their professional lives is what motivates and inspires me.
My clients include higher education professionals and academic researchers from all career stages from PhD to Professor, along with University departments and Higher Education Institutions that are keen to understand and respond to the needs of their staff and students. I hold a European Mentoring and Coaching Council accredited qualification in coaching and mentoring and am a member of the Association for Coaching.

Prior to launching Research Coach, I spent four years managing research staff development activity at the University of Sussex, before which I spent five years as a senior manager at the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. I graduated with a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Bristol in 2009. In my spare time I enjoy meals with friends, visiting the beach with my son, good books and great films.

“I can only say how much I am impressed by the clarity and kindness and complete lack of judgment with which Natalie approached our conversations. She is equally analytical and compassionate which ultimately allowed me to identify, name and deal with the patterns that held me back in my professional and personal life.”

Jo Collins photo

Dr Jo Collins

Coaching Programmes Lead and Consultant Researcher

As a life-long learner and educator, I am passionate about supporting my coachees to develop their potential in their own learning and development journeys.

I specialize in coaching in the Higher Education sector, where I have been teaching, publishing and researching for the last two decades. I have also worked in researcher development roles for over a decade.  I hold a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology, and I am a member of the Association for Coaching. Alongside my coaching work I am a Senior Lecturer in Coaching and Mentoring at a UK University, and I also research into doctoral wellbeing, and coaching and wellbeing.

“Jo is an incredible source of support and helps to find resolution when things are difficult. She remembers your characteristics, and can always help navigate to solutions which work for the individual.”

Dr Catherine Pope

Dr Catherine Pope

Training Lead and Coach

I love supporting researchers in overcoming obstacles and reaching their goals. I’ve worked with PhD students through to Professors, helping them to break down complex challenges into more manageable tasks.

As an avid lifelong learner, I’m always seeking new techniques and tools to share with clients. I’m especially interested in the writing process and have published two books for researchers, How to Finish Your PhD and How to Publish Your PhD. I’m currently working on a book called How to Plan Your Career Beyond Academia. I have also published articles, chapters, and a monograph in my field of Victorian literature.

Although I’ve spent a lot of time in the nineteenth century, I’ve also worked in web development and software engineering. I’m currently exploring the use of generative AI in academic research.

When I’m not coaching and training, I enjoy playing guitar, learning piano, and reading.

“Catherine was so helpful in providing a space for me to talk about my fears and worries, to make them feel less overwhelming and come up with some practical ways of getting on with the task of completing my PhD.”

Emma Bennett- Tomlin

Business Support Administrator

I am a recent addition to The Research Coach team and I am thoroughly enjoying learning the ins and outs of the business. My role is administrative; I complete various tasks behind the scenes, meaning the team has more time to focus on planning and delivering all of their workshops and coaching sessions.

Our associates

Dr Liz McDonnell

Consultant Researcher

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Sussex and regularly work with the team at Research Coach on consultancy projects relating to research cultures and environments in Higher Education Institutions. I am an experienced qualitative researcher who has worked across issues such as gender, inequalities, university cultures, as well as personal life. I teach research methods to undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Dr Tamsin Hinton-Smith

Associate Coach and Trainer

My journey in higher education over the last three decades, while bringing up four children, has developed my core interest in understanding how higher education professionals can negotiate the complex intersections between professional and personal life. A sociologist of gender and education, my journey into higher education leadership has developed my passion for working relationally with others to foster their meaningful professional and personal development. I have led training internationally for cohorts of researchers and academic leaders of all career stages.


Staff Wellbeing Associate

Buzz makes sure that your Research Coach stays well by getting lots of fresh air, exercise and time in nature. Like his Research Coach colleagues he’s also a great listener, except when there’s a squirrel nearby, which causes his ears to mysteriously stop working! He’s always in Research Coach’s Sussex office and when you’re speaking to Natalie you might catch a glimpse of him as he switches positions in-between napping in his basket or basking in the sun.