Team leader

Professor Ross Sanders

Prof. Ross Sanders PhD is a Professor in Motor Control, Biomechanics & Skill Acquisition. Prior to commencing as Head of Discipline and Professor at The University of Sydney in 2013 he was Chair of Sport Science at the University of Edinburgh (2000-2013). His interests include development of coordination, skill, and rhythm in movement from human performance, participation, and health perspectives; analysis of aquatic locomotion from the perspectives of skill learning, elite performance, and rehabilitation/exercise; quantifying the anthropometric properties of body segments to address research questions relating to cardiovascular health, obesity, and sports performance.


  • Dr Roger Adams

Dr Roger Adams, PhD is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Motor Control & Learning. His major research interests are related to the measurement of motor behaviour in domains related to rehabilitation physiotherapy practice, with a particular interest in the application of psycho-physical techniques for measuring active proprioception at individual joints and at joint complexes. He developed a method involving pairwise application of non-parametric signal detection analysis to derive a score to reflect ability to discriminate small differences in active movement. This has since been applied in post-injury assessment and expert performance research. In addition, he has been involved with ROC curve analysis usage in examining the expert perceptual skills of both elite athletes and clinicians. Dr Adams has acted on the supervision panel of twenty-four completed doctorates, and he acts as an invited journal reviewer for the Journal of Motor Behavior, Journal of Physiotherapy, Physiotherapy, Perceptual & Motor Skills, Journal of Sports Sciences, and Physical Therapy in Sport.

Dr. Stephen Cobley PhD (CPsychol; AFBPsS) is a senior lecturer in Motor Control & Skill Acquisition and Sport and Exercise Psychology. His research interests examine developmental factors that constrain learning and performance from a bio-ecological perspective. As part of his research, he has in particular revealed how characteristics of the individual (i.e., relative age and maturation) in youth consistently interact with learning and performance environments, and affect subsequent participation, engagement and attainment in sport, education, and health. He has identified how sports systems view the process of skill learning and athlete development can be a hindrance and constraint on development. He has provided extensive guidance and applied solutions in an effort to address and resolve these issues. His research and applied work has led to the evaluation, modification, and writing of athlete and coaching programs and policy for both sport governing body and associated organizations. Steve recently co-edited “Talent identification and development: International perspectives” (Routledge, 2012) and is a joint co-editor on a forthcoming text “Routledge handbook of talent identification and development” (Routledge, 2016).

Dr. Mark Halaki PhD is a senior lecturer in Biomechanics & Motor Control. He has a background in mechanical and biomedical engineering with research interests in electromyography and biomechanical studies within the control of human movement. His background in engineering continues to be valuable in this area of research as he demonstrates his abilities to bring both neuroscience and engineering principles together. His background in biomechanics and motor control has also been valuable in the study of skill acquisition and coordination during functional movement. His research has spanned the areas of motor control, reflex physiology, computational modelling and coordination of multi-joint movements. The primary focus of his research is the study of the control of movements in healthy people and people with injury/pathology. This is a research area involving biomechanical evaluation of movements and muscle recruitment patterns. His work has advanced the understanding and complexity in muscle coordination of the shoulder, and he role of the rotator cuff muscles in shoulder movement.

  • Associate Professor Nick O’Dwyer

Dr. Nick O’Dwyer, PhD is an Honorary Associate Professor in Motor Control & Skill Acquisition. His major research interest is the brain mechanisms of coordination and control of movement. From a background in psychology, he integrates multi-disciplinary knowledge from neurophysiology, biomechanics, exercise, motor behaviour, neurology and engineering. He has revealed important mechanisms of normal movement, with implications for the neurological disorders of stroke, cerebral palsy, stuttering and facial nerve palsy. His work has focused on the processes of learning new movement skills and the promotion of movement skill in neurological disorders. Through work on the signals analysis of reflexes, he has identified and described key physiological mechanisms of the stretch reflex and the reflex disorder of spasticity in stroke and cerebral palsy. His experimental work on rowing and cycling was the first demonstration that energy cost (measured by metabolic energy costs such as heart rate, oxygen consumption and muscle activation) declines with increasing skill (measured by task performance and cognitive reaction time). Thus, even after untutored practice, energetic efficiency increases and is a key component of motor skill. This is a foundation for research into the energetics of skill in intensively musculoskeletal activities such as sport and musical performance.

PhD students

  • Michael Chang
  • Tate Hubka
  • Ben Moore
  • Caitlin Taylor
  • Claire Tompsett
  • Allan Fu