Sarah studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, eventually choosing to specialize in virology and immunology. She went on to earn a doctorate at the University of Oxford, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. There she worked with Xiaoning Xu and Andrew McMichael to investigate mechanisms and consequences of activation of bystander T cells during immune responses. She then relocated to California and simultaneously made the transition out of the lab and into scientific writing and editing, taking up a position in the Department of Neurology at University of California, San Francisco. She was fortunate to join UCSF as the NIH Public Access Policy was coming into effect for annual grant reporting, and she soon developed an interest in the open access movement.