Lucy Jones graduated as salutatorian from Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1971. She attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she received a bachelor of arts in Chinese in 1976, graduating magna cum laude.
Jones received her Ph.D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. In 1979, she was chosen to be the first American scientist to visit China, traveling as a Fulbright Fellow.
Jones joined the USGS as a reseacher in 1983 at the California Institute of Technology. She has been with the USGS since then, serving in several roles.
"Lucy brings magnetism to what is normally a dull subject: preparedness," Paul Schulz, then-CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles, told Smithsonian.com in 2010.
Jones remains the face of earthquakes and is recognized worldwide. When she traveled to Chile in 2010 to study the impact of an 8.8 earthquake, Jones was approached by a woman, who asked for her autograph.