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Assistant Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ESH 4140
(205) 975-0219

Research and Teaching Interests:My work focuses on equipping a diverse student population with the skills needed for the modern workforce and lifelong learning. My education research and teaching interests include supporting self-efficacy and STEMM affinity in a broad population of undergraduate students, the development of data and digital fluency, inclusive teaching practices, and evidence-based frameworks for distance-accessible learning. My outreach efforts focus on local data workforce development and bringing Coding with Physics to Alabama high schools.

Office Hours: : By appointment


  • B.S., University of Alabama at Birmingham, Physics
  • Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham, Physics
  • National Research Council Fellow, NIST Boulder

I am a native of Birmingham, AL, where I spent my childhood until moving to New York to study dance at the School of American Ballet through Scholarships from the Ford Foundation. I received my Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where I was the 2006 recipient of Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies at the Master’s Level. In my graduate work, performed under an NIH-NIBIB fellowship, I combined theoretical, computational, and experimental techniques towards the development of novel nanomaterials with biomedical and energy applications.

After receiving my Ph.D., I was awarded an NRC Postdoctoral Fellowship for work in the Applied Chemicals and Materials Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado. My work at NIST focused on the modeling and design of novel materials for plasmonics and photonics. In this work, I used density functional theory methods to derive the optoelectronic properties of 2D materials and developed semi-classical techniques for coupling these properties with the continuum. This approach allowed for efficient mesoscale spectroscopic modeling of metamaterial heterostructures.

I joined the Department of Physics as an Assistant Professor in 2019, and currently, I serve as lead for Project RAISE (Remotely-Accessible Interdisciplinary STEMM Education), a UAB Physics effort that promotes data fluency and computational skills for lifelong learning and workforce development. In 2021, I received a UAB Faculty Development Grant for pilot study efforts related to Project RAISE. I serve as Learning Manager for the Magic City Data Collective. I am Chair of the Technology-Enabled Physics Education Committee, a UAB Signature Core Fellow, and currently serve as President of the UAB Chapter of Sigma Xi. My work in Gameful Learning Design for Introductory Physics led to a UAB Provost’s Award for Transformative Online Courses in 2021. I have also served as Chair of the UAB Physics Curriculum Reform Committee and as a member of the UAB eLAC Enabling Technologies Committee and the QEP Advisory Council. In 2016, I led the development of the first Quality Matters-certified course in the Department of Physics.

  • Recent Courses
    • PH 103 Understanding the World Through Data
    • HC 117 Honors Seminar in Natural Sciences and Mathematics
    • Physical Science (PHS101-QL)
    • College Physics I (PH201-QL)
    • HC 217 Honors Seminar in Math and Science
    • General Physics I (PH221)
    • General Physics II (PH222)
    • PH 299 Reasoning through Modeling and Simulation of Data
    • STH 299 Science and Technology Honors Seminar
  • Select Publications
    • L. Rast and V.K. Tewary, Nanophotonics: From Quantum Confinement to Collective Interactions in Metamaterial Heterostructures in Modeling, Characterization and Production of Nanomaterials, V.K. Tewary and Y Zhang, Ed., Elsevier, Cambridge UK (2015).
    • L. Rast, Plasmonic Properties of Metallic Nanostructures, Two Dimensional Materials, and Their Composites in Applied Spectroscopy and the Science of Nanomaterials, P. Misra, Ed., Springer, Singapore, (2014).
    • L. Rast, T. J. Sullivan, and V. K. Tewary, Stratified Graphene/Noble Metal Systems for Low-Loss Plasmonics Applications, Phys. Rev. B, 87(4) 045428- 045437 (2013).
    • L. Rast and J. G. Harrison, Computational Modeling of Electromagnetically Induced Heating of Magnetic Nanoparticle Materials for Hyperthermic Cancer Treatment, Pr. Electromagn. Res. S., 1(1) 910 (2010).
    • L. Rast and A. Stanishevsky, Aggregated Nanoparticle Structures Prepared by Thermal Decomposition of Poly(vinyl)- N-Pyrrolidone/Ag Nanoparticle Composite Films, Appl. Phys. Lett. 87, 223118, (2005).
  • Academic Distinctions & Professional Memberships
    • Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies
    • National Research Council NIST-ARRA Fellow
    • The Physics Teacher Education Coalition