URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and University of Illinois graduate Eli Murray returned to his alma mater Tuesday night for a Q&A discussion with professors and students.

Alongside colleagues Corey G. Johnson and Rebecca Woolington, Murray won the coveted prize for Investigative Reporting for the Tampa Bay Times in May 2022. The series, “Poisoned,” was an exposé of highly toxic hazards inside Florida’s only battery recycling plant that forced the implementation of safety measures to adequately protect workers and nearby residents.

“It’s exciting to be back on campus,” said Murray, who had not stepped foot on campus since his graduation day seven years ago. “I didn’t think this moment would ever happen, but I’m glad to be here.”

The hour-long event, presented by the Richard and Leslie Frank Center for Leadership and Innovation in the College of Media, was a Q&A session led by Associate Professor Charles Ledford. The two discussed a wide range of topics from Murray’s work with this series, his previous work and his time at Illinois.

Dozens of journalism students and faculty filled the Monsanto Multimedia Studio at ACES Library for the event.

“This is a big deal for both Eli and the College of Media,” said Ledford, who helped organize the event. “I am excited he was able to return to campus to discuss this huge millstone in his journalism career.”

As a student at Illinois, Murray credited Ledford as one of his most influential journalism professors.

“I couldn’t have done this without him,” Murray said. “You can see the effects of his influence on me as a professor in my work today. I don’t know how I can ever thank him for that.”