As a child, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I found my way to journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I worked at a series of smaller newspapers before coming to the Times, where I was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing violence at Florida's underfunded mental hospitals. When I’m reporting, I channel the old TV detective Columbo. My stories often veer toward the unusual: a surrogate mother who can’t get pregnant or an old man with dementia who faces arson charges. I love writing on my back porch, decorating for each holiday and spending time with my daughter, who attends my alma mater.