Jess completed her undergraduate studies in Marseille, France, at the University of Aix-Marseille II, before returning home to Switzerland to study for a Master of Science degree in biology in Lausanne University. For her MSc thesis, she studied the ecology of coral reefs in Dahab, in the Egyptian Red Sea. After completing her MSc in 2005, Jess returned to the Red Sea to volunteer with the South Sinai Marine Protectorates and work on a project funded by the EU for the sustainability of the local dive sites while working as a diving instructor.
Jess joined the Reef Ecology Lab in KAUST in fall 2010 and completed her PhD in December 2013. Her PhD thesis focused on the timing and synchrony of coral reproduction in the central Red Sea as well as on coral recruitment during the recovery of a reef affected by high coral mortality following a bleaching event.
Following the completion of her PhD, Jess worked as a post-doc for one year on a revision of the genus Acropora in the Red Sea. She collectied specimans and used a combination of morphological (macro-structure as well as micro-structure) and molecular analyses to accurately identify the taxonomy and phylogeny of the genus in the region.