Jim Riley

Jim Riley Professor
PACCAR Professor of Engineering
Adjunct Professor, Aeronautics & Astronautics; Applied Mathematics
  MEB 314
  Faculty Website


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


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, Professor Riley helped develop the course, ME431, Advanced Fluid Mechanics, in which students are introduced to the application of commercial computers codes to 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 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, is a member of the Editorial Committee for the Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, is an associate editor for the Applied Mechanics Reviews, and is also an associate editor for the Journal of Turbulence.

Honors and awards

  • Chaire de Mathematiques Industrielles, l’Universite Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France
  • Senior Visiting Fellow, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge University
  • Director’s Award, UW Geological Survey
  • Universite Paul Sabatier Visitor’s Award, Toulouse, France
  • Senior Scientific Fellow, Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratories

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 equilibrium chemistry in turbulent flows, AW Cook and JJ Riley, Physics of Fluids, 6(8), 2868-2870.
  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.