Rachel undertook her undergraduate studies in Chemistry in Swansea University. She then worked in the chemical industry in Switzerland for a year, before returning to Swansea to undertake her PhD studies in the photophysics of light-emitting materials for displays and sensors. During her PhD, she spent one year at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, as a Marie Curie training fellow.
In 2007, Rachel moved to France to undertake a brief Marie Curie postdoctoral at the Université Paris-Sud, France, using fluorescence and scattering methods to study soft materials. She returned to Portugal in 2008 with an independent FCT postdoctoral fellowship jointly between the Universities of Coimbra and Aveiro.
In 2009, she cut this fellowship short to take up a contract lectureship at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. She was appointed the Ussher Assistant Professor of Device Fabrication in 2011, elected to Fellowship in 2015 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. She moved to the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge in 2017.
Rachel is the Chair of the Royal Society of Chemistry Photophysics and Photochemistry group and sits on the Eastern regional and Member Networks committees. She serves as an Editorial Board member of Materials Chemistry Today. She co-founded and is Chief Scientific Officer of Senoptica Technologies Ltd, which was launched in 2018 to commercialise an optical sensor technology developed in her laboratory.