Dr Julia Riley

Natural Sciences (Physical)

Research Themes

As an astrophysicist, based in the Department of Physics, my work has concentrated on the study of extragalactic radio sources – particularly on their physics and their evolution with cosmological epoch. I have carried out this research through the study of different samples of these objects. My most important piece of work was the division of extragalactic radio sources into two classes based on their morphology, now called Fanaroff-Riley Class I and Class II (or FRI and FRII) – the FR classification is now a ‘household’ word amongst astronomers interested in extragalactic radio sources (approximately 1400 citations to the original paper).


I supervise Girton students for all Physics courses in the first and second year, as well as doing Mathematical Methods supervisions in the second year. In my role as Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Physics, I have given a number of lecture courses for first and second year physics students and am currently giving the first lecture course (on Experimental Physics and Dynamics) to the first-year Physics students. I am also in overall charge of the first-year Physics practical classes.


I have been at Girton since 1975 on my appointment as College Lecturer in Physics (I did my undergraduate degree and PhD at Newnham, where I was also a Research Fellow for 2 years). I was an Undergraduate Tutor from 1984-1994, Admissions Tutor from 1994-2004 and Vice-Mistress from 2005-2014. I have been Director of Studies in Physical Sciences since 1998 and I am currently Admissions Tutor for Science.

College Role

Life Fellow

Degrees, Awards and Prizes

Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching in 2009