The crash occurred Monday morning, the Evening Standard reported. But the victim was only identified Wednesday as Giles of the Center for Polar Observation and Modeling at University College London.
The truck struck Giles as it made a left turn, police said. Mayor Boris Johnson responded to the news by saying heavy trucks should only be allowed in central London if they have mirrors and other equipment to reduce the risks to cyclists.
Giles graduated from UCL and received a doctorate in 2005. She was considered a possible successor to Seymour Laxon, the center's director, who died in a fall on New Year's Day.
Colleagues said Giles was excited about her work.
"She got her hands dirty in very extreme circumstances," said Andy Shepherd of the University of Leeds. "Right from the start she was very keen to make real observations -- measurements of the thickness of the sea ice -- rather than rely on the satellite measurements."
Duncan Wingham, the center's first director, said a paper Giles recently published in Nature on the effect of ocean currents in the arctic as the ice melts was "a kind of marker."
"She was the next generation of talent coming on," he said. "I think she was able to see a little bit further than most people, which is why UCL made her a permanent appointment."