CSU, Chico

Natalie Holmberg-Douglas, Animal Science

Natalie Holmberg-Douglas, Animal Science

Agriculture students at California State University, Chico are eternally grateful for junior animal science and biochemistry major Natalie Holmberg-Douglas. This semester, the College of Agriculture decided to hire someone to provide free tutoring to College of Agriculture students in chemistry. As secretary of the Chico Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS), and with a cumulative 3.79 GPA, Holmberg-Douglas more than fit the bill. A pre-vet student, Holmberg-Douglas took on the onerous task of double majoring to give her an added advantage when later applying to veterinary schools.

Holmberg-Douglas came to CSU, Chico as a freshman after graduating from Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. Her initial interest in agriculture was sparked when her family moved to Penn Valley from the Bay Area. Once living in the country, her parents decided to get Holmberg-Douglas and her younger sister involved in 4-H. After joining Rough & Ready 4-H Club, she soon began showing market lambs. 

As with many other 4-H members, Holmberg-Douglas got enrolled in agriculture classes in high school to join the FFA and became part of the Nevada Union FFA chapter. Agriculture teachers Katie Alling and Karen Henderson were among her mentors for the next four years as she participated in FFA activities. While continuing to show sheep, she expanded her experience by taking on a sheep breeding project after her 4-H sheep leader gave her his ram and four breeding ewes. Today, her family still breeds sheep, mostly for personal consumption. Holmberg-Douglas also competed on the chapter’s parliamentary procedure team, natural resources team, and forestry team. Her senior year of high school, her forestry team won the state competition and moved onto the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, to compete at the national level where they received a gold award. Outside of the competitive elements of the organization, Holmberg-Douglas also took advantage of personal growth and leadership opportunities by attending the California FFA State Convention, the Made for Excellence leadership conference, and the Advanced Leadership Academy. 

Her skills obtained through the FFA organization have now transferred to her Chico experience. This year was Holmberg-Douglas’ third year serving as the student chair for the forestry contest at the CSU, Chico and Butte College FFA Field Day. The forestry contest tests students’ skills and knowledge in forest management. Students in the competition take a forest knowledge exam, identify different species of trees, practice timber cruising, complete tree/forest disorders identification, have a chainsaw practicum, undergo a forestry issues interview, and execute a team activity. 

During her time at CSU, Chico, Holmberg-Douglas has been advised and mentored by animal science professor Patrick Doyle. “Natalie is a hardworking, bright individual with an excellent work ethic,” said Doyle. “She’s committed to her studies but finds time to tutor students in chemistry as well. She constantly receives praise from faculty, staff, and students alike for her dedication to the program and to our campus. The future Dr. Natalie Holmberg-Douglas will make an excellent veterinarian; she’d be the first I’d call!”

Holmberg-Douglas is also active in the chemistry department club, SAACS. Through her position as secretary, she helps facilitate biweekly meetings for club members, organizes chemistry tours and trips, gives high schools tours, promotes national chemistry week, and helps with free tutoring in the chemistry building. The American Chemical Society student chapters are organizations for undergraduate chemical science majors. Students in the club are offered programs and activities that prepare them for successful careers and enhance their time in college. This summer, Holmberg-Douglas is doing research for the chemistry and biochemistry department with Professor Carolynn Arpin on a biomedicinal chemistry research project. With this project, she will be investigating Grb7 inhibition by use of small molecules. Grb7 is a protein that has been linked to various cancers, and inhibition of Grb7 has been shown to decrease the viability of several breast cancer cell lines, reduce cell migration in pancreatic cancer cells, and delay the onset of tumors in nude mice. 

Currently, Holmberg-Douglas is an intern at Look Ahead veterinary hospital in Oroville under the supervision of Craig Brown and Michele Weaver. The veterinary hospital treats both small and large animals, giving her a well-rounded learning experience and a good idea of what she can expect after veterinary school. Although Holmberg-Douglas will apply to numerous veterinary schools, she is hoping to go to Oregon State to become a large-animal veterinarian.  

Holmberg-Douglas has been riding horses as long as she could remember. She competed in gymkhanas as a child, and then moved on to the Junior High Wrangler Division followed by the California High School Rodeo Association. She competed in pole bending, barrel racing, goat tying, breakaway roping, and team roping all four years of high school. Her passion for horses is what originally led Holmberg-Douglas to focus on pre-veterinary studies. However, after getting to CSU, Chico and taking the Introduction to Animal Science course, she discovered the vast opportunities and necessity for large-animal livestock vets and changed her path. 

Holmberg-Douglas’ academic achievements and involvement haven’t gone unnoticed. In her three years at CSU, Chico, she has received 14 scholarship awards between the College of Agriculture and the chemistry and biochemistry department. Although her studies have kept her busy, Holmberg-Douglas has discovered a lot about herself as well at CSU, Chico. “The most important thing I’ve learned at Chico is to be yourself,” she said.  “I believe that everyone is different and will be successful in life in different ways. I would have never known my passion for science before I attended Chico State, but now I am thankful that I pursued both of my interests and I am headed down a career path that will utilize both and will ultimately make me happy.”