AWVS Leadership Team

nicole buote

Nicole Buote

President / Founder

Dr. Nicole Buote received her DVM from Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. She then completed a rotating internship at Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston and a surgical internship at the Dallas Veterinary Surgery Center. She went on to complete a surgery residency at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Buote was awarded Diplomate status in 2010. Dr. Buote worked in private practice for 11 years in southern California, as a staff surgeon and then the Chief of the surgery department. She joined Cornell University in 2020 as an Associate Professor of Soft Tissue Surgery in the Department of Clinical Sciences. While her surgical interests lie with minimally invasive surgery and interventional radiology techniques, she has had a strong connection to empowering women since attending an all-girls high school outside the District of Columbia. As the founder and President of the Association of Women Veterinary Surgeons, Dr. Buote hopes to encourage women to pursue and excel in the field of veterinary surgery.


Valery Scharf


Dr. Scharf is a small animal surgeon and assistant professor of Soft Tissue & Oncologic Surgery at the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her interests include minimally invasive and thoracic surgery and surgical education and mentorship. She is passionate about advocating for awareness of the science behind sleep and the role that career choices play in shaping family planning within the veterinary profession.

Michelle Steffey

Michelle Steffey


Michele Steffey received her veterinary degree from the University of California-Davis, and subsequently completed her surgical training via a general rotating internship at the University of Pennsylvania and a surgical residency at Cornell University. She is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and is an ACVS Founding Fellow in the 2 sub-disciplines of Surgical Oncology and Minimally Invasive Surgery.  She is currently a Professor of Small Animal Surgery at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Alex Winter

Alexandra Winter


Dr. Winter received her veterinary medical degree from the University of Sydney, Australia where she also completed a research degree in equine exercise physiology. She completed a fellowship in cardiopulmonary physiology at Cornell, her residency in equine surgery at The Ohio State University and subsequently achieved ACVS board certification. Dr. Winter has held multiple academic faculty appointments in surgery; including at North Carolina State University, where she established the first independent equine soft tissue surgery referral service for hospital patients. She also worked as research surgeon in the Artificial Heart Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and as visiting professor at the University of Prince Edward Island. 
Recently, Dr Winter worked as an editor for the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association for almost a decade. During her editorial tenure she developed and implemented a new comprehensive statistical and methodological review process aimed at improving the quality of reporting. Her research has been published in a variety of venues and she has been an invited speaker and teaching faculty nationally and internationally, including at Stanford University and in the annual Leading Innovations in Healthcare and Education course at Harvard University. Dr. Winter enjoys working with learners and colleagues across the health professions while remaining engaged clinically and in various interprofessional research collaborations. Recently, she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Merck Manuals, Veterinary Manual. Her early career aspiration was to bake fancy cakes, something she is still working on.

Dominque Griffon

Mentorship Committee Lead

Dominique Griffon is a Professor in Small Animal Surgery and Associate Dean for Research at Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine. She has over 25 years of experience in veterinary education, training veterinary students in all aspects of small animal surgery. In her current role at WesternU, she oversees all research programs in the college, serves as program director for the veterinary scholars’ program and manages shared research resources in the college. 

Dr. Griffon is a clinician scientist with clinical and teaching experience in small animal soft tissue, orthopaedic and spinal surgery. Dr. Griffon has published over 90 research publications and given more than 400 invited and abstract presentations. She is co-editor of the textbook on “Complications in Small Animal Surgery” (2nd Edition, 2016). She is the Editor-in-Chief of Veterinary Surgery. Her clinical research interests focus primarily on the pathogenesis of canine cranial cruciate ligament disease and the arthroscopic management of elbow dysplasia. She is the mother of two boys and lives with her husband, dog, cat, and fishes. On her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities and yoga.


Helia Zamprogna

CE Committee Lead

Helia obtained her DVM degree from Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Completed 2 surgical residencies – one in Brazil and another at University of Illinois. Masters degree obtained from Mississippi State University where she worked with bone grafts in cats and PhD done at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Medical School, working with stem cells to treat non union fracture in dogs. She completed post doc programs at North Carolina State University and Michigan State where she helped the development of a questionnaire to assess pain in cats and biomechanical testing of different orthopedic implants, respectively. Helia worked in privite practices in Vermont – US, Auckland – New Zealand and currently lives and works in Oslo – Norway. In her spare time, Helia enjoys time outside in nature, hiking, biking and snowboarding.

Marije Risselada

Research Committee Lead

Marije is a Dutch veterinarian who completed her DVM at Ghent University (Belgium), and then stayed on in Ghent for her rotating internship and a combined PhD/Residency (ECVS residency). She subsequently moved to the US in 2007, and did a second residency (ACVS) while working at the University of Florida as a Small Animal Soft tissue faculty member. While at UF, she was a member of the research committee (2009-2011) while also active in grant writing (internal grants) and research projects. After her move to NCSU in the summer of 2011, she joined the NCSU research committee (2011-2017), while also gaining more experience in grant writing (internal and external). After her move to Purdue in 2017, she joined the Department and College Research advisory boards and is a member of the VCS Research Lab.