Meris Lutz joined the Times' Beirut bureau as a news assistant in April 2009. The Connecticut native has lived on and off in the Middle East since 2005. She has worked as a freelance journalist and translator, covering war, politics, technology, business and the art for Lebanon's The Daily Star and other print and online publications. She lived in Damascus for nearly a year, studying Arabic. She graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor's degree in history and Arabic in 2007. Before becoming a journalist she worked as a bartender and ice cream scooper.