Tanner Finken

Tanner Finken

PhD Student
Office: GS 725
Interests: Programming Languages and Compilers
Advisor: Dr. Saumya Debray


I grew up in the small town of Carroll, Iowa. I was a pretty energetic kid, and I was always interested in the latest technology that was coming out, although it was mostly videogames. In elementary school through high school, I was good at math and science. I was told that I had a logical mind, which definitely helped me as I went to a liberal arts college named Central College in Pella, Iowa where I studied Computer Science and Mathematics. I also played tennis there and got to compete at the D3 level. I was drawn to Computer Science because I am fascinated by the way computers work and how tasks can be automated by a programmer.

​​​​​Research Interests

For research, I am interested in programming, whether it's the languages that are utilized or the compilers that turn the language into machine code and making these better. "Better" is fairly vague but a couple of examples include making it easier to find and fix bugs in the code, improving the variety of functions being able to be performed, and improving the efficiency of automations.

What long-term project do you want to work on?

A long-term project that I would find interesting would be working on a program that could model a given compiler and search for inefficient code or possible vulnerabilities. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy the satisfaction of solving a hard problem and seeing that all the hard work has paid off. I also find learning about various topics within computer science to be interesting. 

What are your career goals?

For a career, I would like to work at a large company on projects that interest me and become someone who works directly to improve or produce useful code, which could be a software researcher or software architect. 

​​​​Tell us something interesting about yourself!

I can juggle 3 or 4 tennis balls with a couple of tricks for each.