Deirdre Fernandes is a veteran reporter whose work holds some of the state’s most powerful institutions to account, whether it’s colleges, hospitals, banks or insurance companies. She is currently part of the Globe’s investigative team and has written about a troubled cardiothoracic surgeon in New Hampshire and a Boston hospital’s failed partnership to chase rich patients in China. She has covered higher education and written about grandparents burdened by excessive student loans, the lagging diversity of Harvard University’s prestigious graduate schools, and Jeffrey Epstein’s deep personal and financial ties to MIT and Harvard. In 2017, the Education Writers Association named her the country’s best beat reporters among large newspapers. Fernandes joined the Globe in 2011 and has also written about the insurance and banking industry and the economy’s emergence from the Great Recession. Her stories centered on consumers, including homeowners hit with unexpectedly high insurance increases or low-income customers pushed into auto loans with ballooning bills. She previously worked at The Virginian-Pilot and exposed credit card abuse by Virginia Beach city officials, leading to the criminal conviction of one former employee. She also worked at papers in North Carolina. She grew up in Sudbury and received her undergraduate degree at American University.