Mechanical Engineering Department,
University of Washington

ME Faculty

James J. Riley

PACCAR Professor of Engineering
Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Adjunct Professor, Applied Mathematics
Adjunct Professor, Aeronautics & Astronautics
Johns Hopkins University (PhD 1972)

Contact Information

  • Phone: 206-543-5347
  • Fax: 206-685-8047
  • Office: Mechanical Engineering Building, Room 314
  • Email:

Professor James Riley

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, 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 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 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.


Direct Numerical Simulations reveal details of turbulent mixing between the red and blue fluids. The image is a slice from a simulation with 512x512x1024 grid points (from the Ph.D. thesis research of S. M. deBruynKops).


For more information on Professor Riley's research on turbulent, reacting flows, see here

For more information on Professor Riley's research on turbulence in density-stratified flows, see here

For an abbreviated, PDF version of Professor Riley's Curriculum Vitae, see here