Intrigued by the molecular underpinnings of life, Jay Unruh pursued a B.S. degree in molecular biology at John Brown University and later a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Kansas. He continued his molecular studies in living cells during his postdoctoral studies in the Laboratory of Fluorescence Dynamics at the University of California, Irvine before joining the Stowers Institute as a research specialist in 2008. At Stowers, he extended his exploration of the molecular details influencing the cellular and organismal diversity. In 2010, Unruh took on the role of research advisor, then in 2015 he was appointed co-head of the Microscopy Center. In 2019, Unruh co-directed the Microscopy, Imaging, and Big Data group and in 2022, he accepted the role of Director of Scientific Data.