Sicong (Summer) Sun

Sicong (Summer) Sun

Assistant Professor of Social Welfare


Ph.D. in Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis
MSW, Washington University in St. Louis

Areas of Interest:

Equity, Financial Capability and Asset Building, Health Disparities, Immigration, Mental health, Poverty, Quantitative Analysis, Race and Ethnicity




Office Location:


Sicong “Summer” Sun (they/them) is an Assistant Professor of Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Born and raised in China, Dr. Sun is a first-generation immigrant and a nonbinary queer scholar. They hold a Ph.D. in Social Work and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. Before joining UCLA, Dr. Sun was a faculty member at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare.

Dr. Sun is broadly interested in race, ethnicity, and immigration, poverty and inequality, social determinants of health, and health equity. As an applied interdisciplinary researcher, their scholarship centers on conceptual and empirical understanding of the intersections of racism, poverty, and health. Central to Dr. Sun’s work is investigating how racial/ethnic inequities in asset holding and financial capability—rooted in historical and contemporary structural racism—serve as upstream social determinants that fundamentally shape the downstream determinants of health and wellbeing across the lifespan. Their recent project examines racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between wealth and health. Dr. Sun’s research aims to inform social policies and programs to advance racial, socioeconomic, and health equity in the U.S. and global contexts.

Dr. Sun’s research has been published in multidisciplinary journals, including the Annual Review of Public Health, SSM-Population Health, Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, Children and Youth Services Review, and Journal of Family and Economic Issues. Among other awards, they have received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Society for Social Work Research and the Jane Aron Fellowship from the National Association of Social Workers Foundation.

Selected publications:

Sun, S., Chiang, C. J., & Hudson, D. (2024). Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Association Between Parental Wealth and Child Behavioral Problems. Children and Youth Services Review.

Sun, S. (2023). Racial/Ethnic Heterogeneity in Parental Wealth and Substance Use from Adolescence to Young Adulthood. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.

Sun, S. (2023). Building Financial Capability and Assets to Reduce Poverty and Health Disparities: Race/Ethnicity Matters. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 1-20.

Sun, S. , Lee, H., & Hudson, D. (2023). Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Relationship Between Wealth and Health Across Young Adulthood. SSM – Population Health.

Ansong, D., Okumu, M., Huang, J., Sun, S., Huseynli, A., Chowa, G., Ssewamala, F., Sherraden M.S. & Sherraden, M. (2023). Financial Capability and Asset Building: Innovations in Social Protection and Development in Handbook on Social Protection and Social Development in the Global South Edited by Patel, L., Plagerson S., & Chinyoka I.

Chen, Y. C., & Sun, S. (2023). Gender Differences in the Relationship between Financial Capability and Health in Later Life: Evidence from Hong Kong. Innovation in Aging, igad072.

Sun, S. & Chen, Y. C. (2022). Is financial capability a determinant of health? Theory and evidence. Journal of Family and Economic Issues.

Sun, S. Chen, Y. C., Ansong, D., Huang, J., & Sherraden, M.S. (2022). Household financial capability and economic hardship: An empirical examination of the financial capability theory. Journal of Family and Economic Issues.

Sun, S. Huang, J, Hudson, D., Sherraden, M. (2021) Cash transfers and health. Annual Review of Public Health

Tozan, Y., Capasso, A., Sun, S., Neilands, T. B., Damulira, C., Namuwonge F., Nakigozi G., Bahar, O. S., Nabunya, P. Mellins, C. Mckay M. M., & Ssewamala, F. M. (2021). Effects and cost-effectiveness evaluation of a family economic empowerment intervention to increase ARV Adherence among HIV+ adolescents in Uganda. Journal of the International AIDS Society.

Ssewamala, F.M., Wang, J. S. H., Brathwaite, R., Sun, S., Mayo-Wilson, L.J., Neilands, T.B., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2021) Impact of a Family Economic Intervention on Health functioning of Adolescents Impacted by HIV/AIDS: A 5-year Randomized Controlled Trial in Uganda. American Journal of Public Health

Sun, S., Nabunya, P., Byansi, W., Bahar, O. S., Damulira, C., Neilands, T. B., Guo, S., Namuwonge, F. & Ssewamala, F. M. (2020). Access and utilization of financial services among poor HIV-impacted children and families in Uganda. Children and Youth Services Review, 104730.

Tozan, Y., Sun, S., Capasso, A., Wang, J. S. H., Neilands, T. B., Bahar, O. S., Damulira, C. & Ssewamala, F. M. (2019). Evaluation of a savings-led family-based economic empowerment intervention for AIDS-affected adolescents in Uganda: A four-year follow-up on efficacy and cost-effectiveness. PLOS ONE 14(12).


Courses of instruction in the program: Foundations of Social Welfare Policy; HBSE: Theoretical Perspectives in Social Work and Social Welfare

For full list of publications please visit their page at:

Google scholar: ‪Sicong (Summer) Sun – ‪Google Scholar

Research Gate: Sicong Sun (

Connect with them on X: @drsummersun