Jane O'Sullivan studied Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne, graduating at the top of her year. She completed a PhD in plant physiology in 1987 and subsequently completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Durham (UK) in molecular biology/enzymology, including a year seconded to the John Innes Centre in Norwich.
Jane took up a postdoctoral position at The University of Queensland in 1992, studying mineral nutrition of tropical root crops. This led to a series of projects, mostly funded by ACIAR, managing international research throughout the Pacific and with Vietnam. She took a break from full-time research from 2006, while her children were young. During this time she developed her interest in population growth, leading increasingly into economic fields.
Jane has developed a strong network of colleagues internationally, in areas of population change, climate change, peak oil and steady state economics.