Press Release: Equine Assisted Services for Veterans with PTSD Research Project Moves into Recruitment Phase Thanks to Successful Fundraising

New Brunswick, N.J. – The Equine Science Center has announced the Recruitment Phase for its large-scale research project focusing on Equine Assisted Services (EAS) for veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “We are excited to finally start the recruitment phase of the project after having been postponed by the pandemic,” says Ms. Ellen Rankins, Ph.D. candidate in the Rutgers Endocrinology and Animal Biosciences Graduate Program. “We are confident that by this summer we will be ready to start the research project, utilizing both Center for Disease Control and Rutgers Return to Research guidelines, with proper protocols to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

Ms. Ellen Rankins, pictured above, placing surface electromyogram units (sEMG units) on the horse to measure muscle activity. These units will be used on both the horses and veterans to assess muscle tension during the intervention.

Ms. Rankins is the study coordinator and will be conducting the research as her Ph.D. dissertation project under the mentorship of Drs. Karyn Malinowski and Kenneth McKeever. She will examine the horse-human interaction, and how EAS affects both humans and horses during these types of interventions. The population that Ms. Rankins is currently recruiting are male combat veterans who served in the Iraq or Afghanistan theaters of operation. This group has been selected in order to reduce variability in the measured variables, which include hormones that differ between males and females, and selecting the most recent theatres of operation in order to remove variables that come with the passage of time.

While her research was postponed for a year, she has used that time to actively engage with potential partners, participants, and donors for both information sessions, as well as fundraising initiatives. One of the biggest fundraising initiatives was Rutgers Giving Day, a daylong fundraising initiative to raise both money and awareness for the programs, services, and projects at Rutgers University.

“Thanks to the generous donations from people across the country, we believe that we will soon be able to fully fund Ellen’s research and be able to completely cover the cost for all veterans participating in the study” said Center Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski.

This year, thanks to a generous challenge-match donation, the first $10,000 raised was matched by UMH Properties, Inc., on behalf of Mr. Sam Landy, a member of the Rutgers University Board for Equine Advancement. In total, the Center raised over $34,000 in support of equine-related research, the highest amount raised by the Center in any of the previous Rutgers Giving Day initiatives.

Other donors and allocations over the last year include funding from a budget line-item allocation from the State of New Jersey; a donation from Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies; and supplies in the form of a donation-in-kind from Becton, Dickinson and Company, a multinational medical technology company.

The project is a partnership with statewide stakeholders including: the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; Special Strides located in Monroe, New Jersey (where the sessions will be conducted); the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University; the Office of Veteran and Military Programs and Services at Rutgers; and the Rutgers Business School – Military and Veteran Engagement Programs.

For additional information about the project contact the study coordinator, Ellen Rankins, Ph.D. candidate, at or 848-932-3761, and for information about donating to the project, contact Leadership Gifts Officer Roz Beberman at or 848-932-3593.