Manya Brachear joined the Chicago Tribune in June 2003. As the paper's religion reporter, she has helped chronicle the papal transition from Rome, the Dalai Lama's visit to Chicago, Protestant debates about gay clergy, progress and pitfalls of interfaith dialogue and the role of religion in American politics. In addition to her reporting duties, she moderates and runs the Chicago Tribune's religion blog, The Seeker. Brachear earned a bachelor's degree from Appalachian State University (famous in this region for its victory over the University of Michigan in 2007). She earned masters' degrees in journalism and religious studies from Columbia University. She also has written for Time magazine, The Dallas Morning News, Beliefnet.com and the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.