Members of the University's present and past staff include individuals and groups who have made major contributions to development in both theory and practice. The pioneers were Sir Hans Singer, the first economist ever employed by the United Nations, and Dudley Seers, founding Director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. Professor Amartya Sen, an alumnus and former member of the teaching staff and author of some of the most influential work on poverty and famines in recent times, was Master of Trinity College from 1998 to 2004. The University's staff includes individuals noted for research on the political economy of China and East Asia, on the anthropology of development in Mongolia, on women in Mexican society, on the international political economy, on religion and national identities in Latin America, on migration and development in Vietnam, on the Middle East and political Islam, on capabilities and gender, on institutional reform, and much else besides. The advantage of doing research on development in an institution with a strong research orientation is that it is driven neither by the policy agendas of particular institutions or governments, nor by a reliance on consultancy. Thus development research in Cambridge is well integrated into a dense institutional and personal network and remains attuned to contemporary developments in the various disciplines.