Jane received her Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Michigan in 1983. While persuing her Master's degree in Biology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Jane became interested in algae and completed the work for her MS degree in 1989. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley in August of 1995 in Integrative Biology, while working under the direction of Mary Powers and Tom Bruns. In September 1995, Jane started working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington DC as a Scientific Advisor (AAAS Fellow).
As of 2005, Jane is an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University.