A ‘peculiar’ people: Charlotta and Mark Sanders

by Chris Woodward


Tunbridge Wells is located an hour’s train ride from the centre of London, and often provides a temporary non-city home for those seconded to London from abroad by their employers. Most recently, Tunbridge Wells Ward had the pleasure of providing a temporary base for Charlotta and Mark Sanders, whose permanent home is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

They certainly are a ‘peculiar’ people (i.e. ‘special’). Besides being Latter-day Saints, their line of work is unusual, the field of nuclear science and nuclear law. Charlotta is a nuclear engineer and Mark an international nuclear-law expert. They run their own international consulting business, often working alongside each other for their corporate and government clients. How many couples get the chance to routinely work and travel around the world together on business?

Charlotta, Swedish born, joined the Church at age 17 in her home country. Her hometown of Västervik is a few hours’ drive south of Stockholm, and 100 kilometres from the nearest Church branch in Linköping. Linköping is well known for its university and high-technology industry. Charlotta received a grant to study chemical engineering during her last year of high school at the university in Linköping, so allowing her to regularly attend Church. She then studied mechanical engineering at BYU. While at BYU, Charlotta choose an optional course in nuclear engineering. She was ‘hooked’ and her passion for the subject helped her to pursue advanced degrees, eventually obtaining a doctorate in reactor physics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. However, before obtaining her doctorate, she accepted a position at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, New York which
specialises in nuclear research. It was on Long Island where she first met her husband, Mark, in church.

Mark was raised in the Church in the small town of Gaffney, South Carolina, where ancestors on his father’s side joined the Church in the 1880’s. His mother joined the Church in Germany, before immigrating to the USA in the early/mid 1960’s. Mark’s family moved to Utah when he was 11, from where he was called to serve a mission in St Petersburg, Russia. Mark only served a year here before he was sent home to recover from complications due to pneumonia. After two months of recovery, Mark continued his mission service in the then New York, New York South Mission. He served the last two months on Long Island. After his mission, Charlotta and Mark dated and were married in the Salt Lake Temple in August 1996. One might well believe their relationship was meant to be – the route was certainly complex but inspired.

Mark initially studied history at Goldsmiths, University of London. He taught grammar school in Sweden and then high school in the USA. Mark later returned to university to study law and had the privilege of completing law courses as part of his programme, at the Dickson Poon School of Law (Kings College London), a school that focuses on the role of law in solving modern-day global problems. In 2015, he obtained a post-graduate diploma in international nuclear law from the University of Montpelier, in southern France.

Mark, despite his academic achievements, is slightly dyslexic with writing being especially a challenge. However, encouraged by Charlotta, he submitted his first comprehensive academic research paper in 2014 for publication, but it was rejected. The peer reviewers felt the structure of the paper was inadequate and the arguments disconnected. Mark put the matter to prayer and was guided to apply the things he had learned about the style and structure of the Book of Mormon (despite some of its apparent disjointed nature, it reveals its ‘story’ well). Using the Book of Mormon as a template, he resubmitted a reworked paper in 2016 that was quickly accepted. Six months following publication, Mark was contacted by an academic publisher and asked to expand his research into a book. In 2019, Charlotta and Mark published their book, Nuclear Waste Management Strategies: An International Perspective.

Charlotta and Mark travel widely in the pursuit of their studies and client commissions. Their longest stay in any one place is typically about a year or two. They always treat these work-based moves as opportunities to serve “missions” for the Church. Tunbridge Wells Ward looks forward to the possibility of having them stay again.