Sunny Nakae PhD, MSW

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Contact Information

Faculty Appointment

Associate Professor, Medical Education

Administrative Appointments

Senior Associate Dean-Equity, Inclusion, Diversity and Community Partnerships


Doctorate - Loyola University Chicago
Master of Social Work - University of Utah
Bachelor of Science - (Human Development & Family Studies) University of Utah


Dr. Nakae is dedicated to access and equity in medical education and healthcare through transformative leadership and practice. She collaborates with campus constituencies and community partners to build capacity for justice in medicine and society through teaching, mentorship, and innovation. Dr. Nakae began her career as a director for Diversity at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, Utah, and later served in the same role at the Feinberg School at Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. She then served as Assistant Dean for for Admissions, Recruitment and Student Life at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine where she also joined the academy as an Assistant Professor of Medical Education. Dr. Nakae moved to Southern California to serve as Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Social Medicine, Population, and Public Health at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. She currently serves as the Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Partnership at CUSM.

Research Interests

  • Enrollment management and holistic review in MD admissions, graduate medical education, and faculty search processes
  • Undocumented Students in higher education and medical education
  • Academic medicine careers for underrepresented populations
  • Access and equity in medical education
  • Allyship, co-investment, and antiracism
  • Premedical preparation

Research Description

Dr. Nakae's research focuses on studying policies and procedures, and practices in order to develop strategies and best practices for change. She utilizes qualitative, quantitative, narrative, and community participatory methodologies in her research, often engaging in shared learning and partnerships along the way.