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Who's Who: Tatiana Burek

Winter 2021

Many of you may know Tatiana Burek as the developer and gatekeeper of METviewer, the visualization software for the verification package developed and supported by the DTC, but her life took a series of turns to arrive at the DTC. She grew up in Leningrad, Russia where she spent her childhood as a passionate competitor, both as a speed skater and swimmer, all while attending rigorous dance classes. Undaunted by year-round swim team practice sessions in the outdoor pool, whose coach only cancelled classes when temperatures dropped below 20 degrees F, her love of swimming eventually metamorphosed into a passion for scuba diving. 

Tatiana and her husband are now avid divers listing trips to venues such as the Great Blue Hole in Belize (her deepest dive was 130 ft), Fiji where she was dazzled by brilliant corals, the cenotes in Mexico where light filters through the cracks in the underwater caves, and numerous night dives when shy sea creatures emerge in the total darkness and are easily spooked by flashlight.  She and her husband love the undersea world so much they wanted to bring that experience to the disabled. To pursue this, they participated in carefully structured dive events that introduce this joy to individuals who may never have imagined the possibility of experiencing the marvels of the ocean.

Although Tatiana’s mathematical acumen shone brightly during high school, she discovered computer science in college and dove into programming with bold enthusiasm. The odds were in her favor, as it turned out. At the time, computer programming was considered to be a girl’s profession and the only two boys in the class were outnumbered by 30 girls. She furthered her education in computer science at Northwest Correspondence Technical University while supporting herself as a programmer. 

As is often the case, learning doesn’t stop after University. Tatiana moved to the US in 1999, which necessitated not only learning to speak English, but also relearning to program - in English. She went ahead with a full reboot. 

Tatiana is now the Software Engineer who both develops and manages METviewer. She found her way to the DTC when METviewer lost its developer and she was offered the opportunity of maintaining it. Barb Brown, John Halley Gotway, and Tressa Fowler so impressed her with the work they were doing that she jumped at the opportunity to join the team! In short, her role is to augment the tool with new features and fix bugs as they arise. Through a non-DTC project, Tatiana also developed a visualization tool for the National Hurricane Center to view hurricane tracks on the interactive map. Creating helpful user interfaces is something she really enjoys. Fortunately, the Research Applications Laboratory is full of opportunities to implement her ideas, while developing helpful tools for scientists.

Hopefully, her future will include more sublime underwater exploration, but in the meantime, she offers this quote, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Tatiana Burek