Lauren Rast

Assistant Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Campbell Hall Room 484
(205) 975-0219

Research and Teaching Interests:Physics education research, eLearning, development of physics courses for the online environment, educational technologies for in-person and online courses

Office Hours: : T 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., Th 1:00 - 2:00 p.m., and by appointment

Education:

  • 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.

Currently, I lead the UAB Distance-Accessible Physics Education Project and have served as project coordinator since 2014. I joined the Department of Physics as an Assistant Professor in 2019. I am Chair of the Technology-Enabled Physics Education Committee. 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. My education research and teaching interests include the development of self-efficacy and STEM affinity in diverse populations of undergraduate physics students, evidence-based course design, gameful learning strategies, and strategies for delivering individualized instruction at scale. My course development efforts center around the use of computational modeling and simulation to support learning in introductory physics, physical science, and astronomy courses.

Recent Courses

  • Introductory Physics (PH100)
  • Physical Science Online (PHS101-QL)
  • College Physics I Online (PH201-QL)
  • General Physics I (PH221)
  • General Physics II (PH222)

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