Harrie Mort

Harrie Mort


I am a first year postgraduate researcher at the University of Leeds, focussing on transdisciplinary approaches for addressing the phosphorus challenge. My enthusiasm for transdisciplinary research is rooted in my own multidisciplinary background; I graduated with an MChem in Biological Chemistry from the University of Sheffield and worked in the in-vitro diagnostics industry, before earning an MA in Science-Technology-Society from the University of Vienna. It is now my aim to use my multi-disciplinary skill set to support improvements in the sustainability of phosphorus use and to contribute to the development of a circular phosphorus economy.


Research interests

Phosphorus is a non-renewable resource that is mined from a few locations around the world but is used globally as an essential fertilizer. Its scarcity and uneven distribution mean that it is not equally available to all and can be subject to significant price fluctuations. Furthermore, the anthropogenic portion of the phosphorus cycle is all but linear as it is ultimately lost to the hydrosphere, causing damaging eutrophication in the process.

Clearly, our use of phosphorus is environmentally and socially unsustainable and can be labelled as a ‘wicked’ problem with high complexity, uncertainty and multiple stakeholders. These features have motivated the transdisciplinary approach of my research, which aims to integrate knowledge from multiple academic disciplines, and non-academic stakeholders, in order to:

  1. Generate an in-depth understanding of the complex socio-ecological system(s) that are contributing to unsustainable phosphorus use at catchment level.
  2. Analyse the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of unsustainable phosphorus use in the catchment.
  3. Develop novel measures for improving the sustainability of phosphorus use.
  4. Integrate process-based phosphorus modelling and socioeconomic modelling to support the assessment of potential future P management scenarios.

By conducting this research I aim to assess the role that transdisciplinary approaches can play in developing novel and effective measures for addressing the phosphorus challenge.



  • MChem Biological Chemistry
  • MA Science-Technology-Society

Research groups and institutes

  • Economics and Policy for Sustainability
  • Sustainability Research Institute
  • water@leeds
  • River Basin Processes and Management