Sethu Karthikeyan

Sethu Karthikeyan

Associate Professor
College of Health Professions
163 William Street


Personal Quote

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool."
Richard Feynman

Faculty Bio

I am an Associate Professor in the College of Health Professions at Pace University in New York City. I earned a PhD in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences from The Graduate Center, CUNY, in 2012 under the supervision of John L. Locke. My BSc and MSc degrees in Speech and Hearing are from Mangalore University and All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (Mysore University), Karnataka, India.

I enjoy teaching topics that fall within the realm of behavioral sciences, especially those exploring the use of voice, speech, and language. My teaching is informed by my research, which adopts an evolutionary approach to human behavior.

I am originally from Kerala, India. My mother tongue is Malayalam. I am moderately fluent in Kannada and Hindi (and can manage a bit of Tamil, too). I grew up in Abu Dhabi, UAE; I completed my primary and secondary education in Indian schools there. I am a recently naturalized US citizen (2023). I continue to return to Kerala every summer to spend time with my extended family.

Awards and Honors

  • Pace University, 2023, CHP Dean's Scholarship Award
  • The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2010, Martin Gitterman Excellence in Teaching Award
  • The Graduate Center, CUNY, 2009, Moe and Hannah Bergman Award for first-authored conference presentations


PhD, The Graduate School and University Center, The City University of New York, NY, NY, 2012
Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

MS, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore, Karnataka, India, 2003
Speech and Hearing

BS, Dr. MV Shetty College of Speech and Hearing, Mangalore, Karnataka, India, 2001
Speech and Hearing

Research and Creative Works

Research Interest

I am interested in the human capacity for spoken language, social evaluations based on speech, vocal-verbal flexibility, and cultural diversity.

One of my recent projects used the evolutionary psychology framework to weave together findings from sociolinguistics, speech science, and phonetics to address speech-based social evaluations. This was done in collaboration with two labs: Evolutionary Psychology Lab, SUNY, New Paltz, directed by Glenn Geher, and Behavioral Endocrinology and Evolution Lab, Penn State, University Park, directed by David Puts.

Another project explored the utility of culturally diverse samples and a historical outlook in research on mate choice. Although counterintuitive, the project has implications for research on spoken language. This was a collaboration with Maryanne Fisher, Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia.

Grants, Sponsored Research and Contracts

Classroom Based Research Award
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Dean's research Release Time Award
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Kenan Faculty Development Funds
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Kenan Faculty Development Funds
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Dean's Research Release Time Award
Karthikeyan, S. . Funded.

Scholarly Research Funds
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Dean's Research Release Time Award
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Kenan Faculty Development Funds
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Kenan Faculty Development Funds
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Scholarly Research Release Time Award
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Kenan Faculty Development Funds
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Dyson Faculty Summer Research Grant
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Provost’s Summer Student-Faculty Research Grant
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Undergraduate Faculty-Student Research Program Grant
Karthikeyan, S. Pace University. Funded.

Courses Taught

Past Courses

CHP 243: The Psychology of Language
CHP 277: The Science of Speech Sounds
CSD 140: Intro Communication Disorders
CSD 223: Psycholinguistics
CSD 240: Intro Communication Disorders
CSD 251: Early Language Development
CSD 256: Phonetics
CSD 357: Speech Science
CSD 480: Rsrch in Cmnctn Scnce Dsrdr
CSD 654: Disorders of Voice & Resonance
CSD 670: Neuroscience for Commu. Sci
CSD 680: Applied Research for CSD

Publications and Presentations


Voice Pitch
Karthikeyan, S. & Puts, D. (2023). Shackelford, T.K (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Sexual Psychology and Behavior. Springer, Cham.

Articulatory effects on perceptions of men’s status and attractiveness
Karthikeyan, S., Puts, D. A., Aung, T., Link, J., Rosenfield, K., Mackiel, A., Casey, A., Marks, K., Cristo, M., Patel, J., Santos, A. & Geher, G. (2023). Scientific Reports.

‘Shape’ and ‘taste’ of words may make them easier to learn and remember
Ramachandra, V. & Karthikeyan, S. (2023). The ASHA Leader.

A case study of a historical matrilineal community from an evolutionary perspective
Karthikeyan, S. & Fisher, M. L. (2022). Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.

Social eavesdropping: Can you hear the emotionality in a “Hello” that is not meant for you?
Karthikeyan, S. & Ramachandra, V. (2017). i-Perception.

Women’s tendency to approach men speaking standard and non-standard accents varies with the nature of the help-seeking situation: Some initial findings
Karthikeyan, S. & Ficalora, S. (2017). North American Journal of Psychology.

Are vocal pitch changes in response to facial expressions of emotions potential cues of empathy? A preliminary report
Karthikeyan, S. & Ramachandra, V. (2016). Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.

The bouba-kiki phenomenon tested via schematic drawings of facial expressions: Further validation of the internal simulation hypothesis
Karthikeyan, S., Rammairone, B. & Ramachandra, V. (2016). i-Perception.

Men’s evaluation of women’s speech in a simulated dating context: Effects of fertility variations on fundamental frequency and attractiveness
Karthikeyan, S. & Locke, J. L. (2015). Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.

Agrammatics’ sensitivity to inflectional optionality
Datta, H., Karthikeyan, S., Obler, L. K., Karanth, P. & Karpur, P. (2007). Brain and Language.


Mating rituals and rules in a historical matrilineal community: Why should we care?
Karthikeyan, S. (2023). Historical Psychology Preconference, Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Atlanta.

The language of human mating: Effects of voice pitch and speech articulation on mating-relevant perceptions
Karthikeyan, S. (2022). Evolutionary Studies (EVOS) Seminar Series . SUNY, New Paltz.

Iconic pitch manipulations and protowords
Karthikeyan, S. (2018). International Society for Human Ethology. Santiago, Chile.

Was arbitrariness selected in language evolution? Clues from a variant form of the Bouba-Kiki test
Karthikeyan, S. (2016). NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society . Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Regional dialects influence listeners' help seeking tendencies depending on the nature of the situation.
Karthikeyan, S. & Ficalora, S. (2015). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Denver, CO.

Professional Contributions and Service

Professional Memberships

  • International Society for Human Ethology
  • NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

College Service

  • Allied Health Search Committee [Committee Chair]
  • Course Evaluation Committee [Committee Chair]

University Service

  • New York Faculty Council [1st Vice Chair ]
  • Council of Deans and Faculty on Promotion and Tenure, Alternate member
  • Scholarly Research Committee [Committee Member]

Professional Service

Scientific Reports (Human Behaviour) [Editorial Board Member]

Public Service

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, The Graduate Center, CUNY [Task Force Member]