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Jim Riley

Faculty Photo

Professor Emeritus
Mechanical Engineering


Jim Riley, the PACCAR Professor of Engineering, is a fluid dynamicist whose research and teaching emphasize transitioning and turbulent flows. He has worked extensively on a broad range of problems, among them turbulent dispersion, two-phase flows, boundary layer transition, free shear flows, chemically-reacting flows, ferro-fluid flows, and geophysical flows. He is a pioneer in the development and application of direct numerical simulation to transitioning and turbulent flows. His current research emphasizes turbulent, chemically-reacting flows and also waves and turbulence in density-stratified flows and rotating flows. His classroom teaching mainly involves courses in fluid mechanics, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. At the undergraduate level, he teaches introductory fluid mechanics as well as a more advanced course in which students are introduced to the application of commercial codes for solving problems involving fluid mechanics. At the graduate level he teaches courses on introductory fluid mechanics, and on hydrodynamic stability and turbulence; he recently introduced new courses on turbulence modeling and on large-eddy simulation of turbulence.

Professor Riley, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and is a past chair of its Division of Fluid Dynamics; he is also a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. While on sabbatical at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, Professor Riley occupied the visiting chair in industrial mathematics. More recently he was a senior fellow at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University, Cambridge, U.K.

Among his editorial responsibilities, Professor Riley is an associate editor for the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, and is also an associate editor for the Journal of Turbulence. Until recently he was a member of the Editorial Committee for the Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, and an associate editor for the Applied Mechanics Reviews.


  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1972
  • B.S., Rockhurst College, Kansas City, MO, 1965

Select publications

  1. Equation of Motion for a small rigid sphere in a nonuniform flow, MR Maxey and JJ Riley, Physics of Fluids 26(4), 883-889, 1983.
  2. Available potential energy and mixing in density-stratified fluids, KB Winters et al., Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 289, 115-128, 1995.
  3. Secondary instability of a temporally growing mixing layer, RW Metcalfe et al., Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 184, 207-243, 1987.
  4. A subgrid model for turbulent reacting flows, AW Cook and JJ Riley, Combustion and Flame, 112(4), 593-606, 1998.
  5. Direct numerical simulations of homogeneous turbulence in density-stratified flows, JJ Riley et al., Nonlinear Properties of Internal Waves, 76, 79-112, 1981.
  6. Fluid motions in the presence of strong stable stratification, JJ Riley and MP Lelong, Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 32(1), 613-657, 2000.
  7. Direct numerical simulations of a reacting mixing layer with chemical heat release, PA McMurtry et al., AIAA Journal, 24(6), 962-970, 1986.
  8. Stratified Turbulence: a possible interpretation of some geophysical turbulence measurements, JJ Riley and E Lindborg, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 65(7), 2416-2424, 2008.
  9. Dynamics of turbulence strongly influenced by buoyancy, JJ Riley and SM de Bruyn Kops, Physics of Fluids, 15, 2047-2059, 2003.
  10. Mixing efficiency in the ocean, MC Gregg et al., Annual Review of Marine Sciences, 10, 443-473, 2018.

Honors & awards

  • Chaire de Mathematiques Industrielles, l’Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France
  • Senior Visiting Fellow, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge University
  • Director’s Award, UW Geological Survey
  • Université Paul Sabatier Visitor’s Award, Toulouse, France
  • Senior Scientific Fellow, Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratories
  • Honored in Special Session, International Symposium on Stratified Flows
  • ASME Fellow, 2004
  • National Academy of Engineering, 2014
  • Washington State Academy of Sciences, 2012