Speaker Index

Jane Armstrong

Jane Armstrong

Dr. Jane Armstrong is a graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. Following a year in private practice, she completed an internship at the University of Illinois, followed by a residency in internal medicine and a Master’s degree at Michigan State University.

Dr. Armstrong was a faculty member at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine for 7 years before moving to the University of Minnesota. She completed an MBA at the Carlson School of Management in 1999. She is now a Professor in the Veterinary Clinical Sciences Department at the University of Minnesota.

Her interests within small animal internal medicine include clinical nutrition, especially obesity, and gastrointestinal diseases.

Dr. Armstrong holds board certification in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. She is a recent past-President of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Small Animal) and the Comparative Gastroenterology Society, and is a member of the WSAVA Liver Standardization Group.

Aylin Atilla

Aylin Atilla


Dr. Atilla went to high school in a small town in Alberta, Canada – Medicine Hat. She had always wanted to be a veterinarian and pursued her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Cornell University in upstate New York and graduated cum laude. She then went to the University of Pennsylvania for her veterinary degree – VMD. She then pursued an internship at Cornell University and a residency in small animal surgery at Auburn University. She is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Dr. Atilla is currently an assistant professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. She has a special interest in soft tissue surgery and surgical emergencies.

Petra Bizikova

Petra Bizikova


Born and raised in Bratislava, Petra took to animals at a young age, and has been passionate about her dogs and horses ever since. This strong personal bond for animals developed into a deeper passion for helping less fortunate animals, and this passion shaped her career and her life. Petra sought veterinary medical training at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Kosice, Slovakia, some 500 miles from her home, and graduated in 2001. Eager to practice, she joined one of the largest private veterinary clinics in Slovakia, where she worked for four years and focused primarily on internal medicine and dermatology cases.

A personal quest to improve her skills and medical knowledge in veterinary dermatology led me to multiple, self-funded, externships at private referral dermatology clinics and university teaching hospitals in Europe and in the United States. A fortunate trip to North Carolina State University led to her internship and then residency training in veterinary dermatology. This training allowed Petra to obtain specialty board certification her both American and European Colleges of Veterinary Dermatology in 2010. To achieve her goal to become a clinician scientist and to help in the search for the causes and new treatments for inflammatory skin diseases of animals, she undertook a PhD in immunology at North Carolina State University from 2008 to 2012, and then joined the Dermatology Faculty of the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012.

Professionally, Petra values most the interactions she has with her animal patients and their owners and any chance she might have to alleviate their suffering. She is rewarded by the opportunity to research autoimmune skin diseases and allergy in animals and to generate new knowledge and treatments to help our patients.

Personally, Petra enjoys the outdoors, hiking in the woods and mountains with her husband. They are both passionate about animals and greatly enjoy spending time with their Border Collie “Cass” and horse “Fern”.

Christopher Byers

Christopher Byers

DVM, DACVECC, DACVIM (small animal internal medicine)

Dr. Byers grew up in the small seacoast town of Rochester, New Hampshire. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from Colorado State University, and graduated as a University Honors Scholar. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Cornell University. He is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC) and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) in small animal internal medicine (SAIM).

Dr. Byers is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Emergency and Critical Care at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan, Kansas. He serves as a consultant in emergency medicine for the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), and is a member of the Board/Council of Regents for both the ACVECC and ACVIM. He also serves as an At-Large Board Member for the Nebraska Academy of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Byers’ commitment to elevate the care for companion animals is evidenced by that fact that he has published several textbook chapters and scientific papers in various peer-reviewed journals. He also co-authored the textbook, Handbook of Veterinary Emergency Protocols: Dog and Cat. Dr. Byers also enjoys clinical research, and his current areas of interest include immune-mediated diseases and abdominal compartment syndrome.

John E Cooper

John E Cooper

DTVM, FRCPath, FSB, CBiol, FRCVS, Diplomate, European College of Veterinary Pathologists

Professor John Cooper has lived and worked for nearly years overseas, in Africa, Arabia and the Caribbean. His time in Britain/Europe has been spent primarily in the fields of comparative medicine, wildlife and veterinary care of “exotic” species.

Married to a lawyer, Margaret E Cooper, LLB, FLS, John is part of a husband and wife/veterinary surgeon and lawyer  team.  He is a specialist pathologist with particular interests in wildlife and exotic species, tropical diseases and comparative medicine. Margaret is a lawyer who trained originally as a British solicitor and has made the study of animal and conservation law her special interest. The Coopers travel widely and lecture together in many countries. They have spent about ten years living in Africa, including a period in Rwanda working with the mountain gorillas; they were evacuated from the genocide there in 1994.

In 2009 the Coopers returned from nearly seven years at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.  They are now based in Britain, where they hold several visiting academic appointments and are active in such fields as avian medicine, diagnostic pathology and forensic veterinary science. They continue their work with wildlife, domesticated animals and rural communities in East Africa.

In collaboration with a colleague, John is writing a book about gorillas.  This will be a monograph on the pathology and relevant implications for the health of gorillas. Contributors include Margaret Cooper (a chapter on the law) and colleagues in Africa. The latter will include members of the “Gorilla Pathology Study Group” (GPSG), which was set-up in 2008 and primarily intended for people who either live in Africa or who spend a significant part of their time there, who have an interest in the pathology of gorillas and who would like to contribute to a better understanding of the factors affecting the health and welfare of these species.

John’s professional interests include teaching, diagnostic pathology, wildlife and ecosystem health, forensic medicine, tropical diseases, zoonoses and human health. He is author/editor of many books and papers. The Coopers have two adult children and three grandchildren. Their interests include natural history, youth activities, overseas travel and human rights.



Stijn Niessen

Stijn Niessen


Stijn is from the Netherlands and graduated from Ghent University in Belgium. He then completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, followed by completion of a 3-year Small Animal Internal Medicine Residency at the Royal Veterinary College. He then studied for a PhD in Diabetes Mellitus at the RVC and the Medical School in Newcastle from 2006 to 2009. Stijn gained his status of European Specialist in Internal Medicine in 2007 (Diplomate ECVIM).

He was granted an award for “Excellence in the advancement of Endocrinology” by the Society of Comparative Endocrinology (SCE) in 2008, the “Young Researcher in Endocrinology Award” by the European Society of Veterinary Endocrinology (ESVE) in 2009 and a research-award by the Anglo Danish Dutch Diabetes Group (ADDDG) also in 2009. Stijn is also currently board member of the European Society of Veterinary Endocrinology and ex-board member of the Small Animal Medicine Society.

Miriam Shanaman

Miriam Shanaman


A Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology, Dr. Miriam Shanaman joined VSH in August 2013. She completed both her undergraduate and veterinary training at the University of Pennsylvania, earning her VMD in 2009. Following graduation from veterinary school, Dr. Shanaman completed a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery at New York City Veterinary Specialists in New York, NY. Immediately following her internship, Dr. Shanaman completed a 3-year combined Master’s degree and clinical residency in diagnostic imaging at the University of Illinois, earning her board certification in 2013.

Through her Master’s research and clinical training, Dr. Shanaman has published multiple articles addressing the use of contrast-enhanced multi-detector CT in the assessment of awake or minimally sedated canine patients with acute abdominal signs. Dr. Shanaman also has extensive experience with the use of contrast-enhanced ultrasound in the same context. Her clinical interests include evaluating the utility and efficacy of multi-detector CT in the emergency setting to assess conditions of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts in addition to global assessment of patients suffering from polytrauma.

In her spare time, Dr. Shanaman enjoys spending time at the beach with her husband Zack and three crazy dogs Roxy, Mickey and Iggy.

James Simcock

James Simcock

BVSc (hons), MANZCVS (Internal Medicine), Registered Specialist of Small Animal Surgery, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons

James graduated from the University of Melbourne with honours in 2005. Following graduation he worked for 12 months in a busy small animal general practice. He has completed two, twelve month internships in both Small Animal Oncology and Small Animal Surgery along with a three year American College of Veterinary Surgeons residency program at Southpaws Speciality Surgery for Animals in Melbourne Australia.

In 2010 James achieved membership to the Australian College of Veterinary Scientist’s Internal Medicine Chapter.

In 2013 he became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

James has published on gastrointestinal and urogenital surgery and oncology and has presented a number of times at the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, Science Week. James is an internship director and surgical residency advisor for the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. He is also an instructor for numerous veterinary post graduate education courses in surgery. James is particularly interested in orthopaedic and neurologic surgery. He is staff surgeon and a Co-Director of Southpaws Speciality Surgery for Animals.

Elizabeth Villers

Elizabeth ‘Butty’ Villers


• Honorary Associate Professor of Veterinary Clinical Pathology, University of Nottingham• Diplomate, European College of Veterinary Clinical Pathology• European Specialist in Veterinary Clinical Pathology• Fellow, Royal College of Pathologists• Head of DWR Diagnostics

Butty has an international reputation as one of the foremost veterinary clinical pathologists. She is particularly well known for her expertise in haematology and haematological malignancies, flow cytometry and cytology. She is co-author of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Manual of Clinical Pathology and has lectured nationally and internationally in this field.

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Bristol in 1989. After 5 years in mixed practice she undertook a Cambridge University residency in clinical pathology and oncology. After working at a commercial laboratory she returned to Cambridge in 2000 as Lecturer in Clinical Pathology. Here she developed the technique of flow cytometery to aid the diagnosis of lymphoma and leukameia. In 2007 she joined Dick White Referrals where she set up a diagnostic laboratory She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Clinical Pathology. Elizabeth is co-editor of the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Clinical Pathology and is currently editing the 3rd edition. She has a special interest in haematology and haematological cancers.

Jennifer White

Jennifer White


Dr. Jennifer White is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Radiology.

She received her veterinary certification in 2007 from Massey University in New Zealand. She then went on to briefly serve as a general practitioner in a walk-in practice in Chicago before completing a one year rotating small animal internship at VCA Aurora and VCA Berwyn Animal Hospitals.

She stayed on staff as an emergency clinician for one year following her internship. Dr. White then completed a residency in diagnostic imaging at Washington State University, developing strong interests in both ultrasound and cross sectional imaging (CT and MRI). During her residency, she also completed a masters degree in veterinary science.

Her research, evaluating the use of ultrasound elastography in small animals, is the first of its kind in a clinical setting.

In September of 2013, Dr. White joined the staff of the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego where she enjoys being an important part of the diagnostic process for all patients.

Mike Willard

Mike Willard


Dr. Willard is a 1975 graduate of the Texas A&M University, College of Veterinary Medicine. He did his internship and Masters degree at Kansas State University and his internal medicine residency at Michigan State University. After that, Dr. Willard held faculty appointments at Michigan State University, Mississippi State University, and now at Texas A&M University. He has also consulted and worked at a private referral practice. He is currently a professor of Small Animal Clinical Science and specializes in gastroenterology, hepatology, pancreatology and endoscopy (flexible and rigid).

Dr. Willard has given over 2,800 hours of post-graduate continuing education lectures (nationally and internationally), has over 80 refereed publications, and has over 120 book chapters in print. He has worked extensively on sled dogs as well as with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association GI biopsy workgroup. He is currently an Associate editor for the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

David Williams

David Williams


Since qualifying in 1988 David has devoted his professional life to veterinary ophthalmology He undertook a residency at the Animal Health Trust, studied for a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College and now runs the ophthalmology clinic at the Cambridge Vet School as well as providing an ambulatory ophthalmic service for local vets. He has written over 50 clinical and research papers as well as two books and numerous book chapters. He lectures both nationally and internationally with presentations this past year in the US, Canada and China as well as Manchester and Birmingham!

David’s specific interests within ophthalmology include immunological disease of the eye (he was the guest editor for last year’s Veterinary Clinics of North America on that subject) as well as the epidemiology of age-related cataract in companion animals (research he is compiling for a VetMD). He also has a specific interest in eye disease in exotic pet species and wildlife, gaining his fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for work on ocular problems in farmed halibut! David is studying for the RCVS certificate in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law with particular interests in the relationship between Christianity and animal use and abuse as well as the influence of visual incapacity on animal welfare.