B.S. ​Electrical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1988M.S. ​Electrical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 1990Ph.D. ​Electrical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, 1993

"To me, the most curious thing of all is incuriosity. I just don't get it. "

Cormac McCarthy

Professor Acton’s laboratory at UVA is called VIVA - Virginia Image and Video Analysis. They specialize in biological image analysis problems. The research emphases of VIVA include machine learning for image and video analysis, AI for education, tracking, segmentation, and enhancement. Professor Acton has over 325 publications in the image and video analysis area. His recent professional service includes Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Image Processing and General Co-Chair of the IEEE International Symposisum on Biomedical Imaging.


  • IEEE Fellow 2013
  • Faculty Innovation Award 2017
  • All-University Teaching Award 2009
  • Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer 1996
  • Director’s Award for Superior Accomplishment, National Science Foundation 2021

Research Interests

  • Signal and Image Processing
  • Machine Learning
  • Bioimage Analysis

In the News

  • UVA Brain Discovery Could Block Aging’s Terrible Toll on the Mind

    Acton lab collaborates with Kipnis lab

    Aging vessels connecting the brain and the immune system play critical roles in both Alzheimer’s disease and the decline in cognitive ability that comes with time, new research reveals. By improving the function of the lymphatic vessels, scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have dramatically enhanced aged mice’s ability to learn and improved their memories. The work may provide doctors an entirely new path to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, age-related memory loss and other neurodegenerative diseases.

    The research is the latest from the lab of pioneering neuroscientist Jonathan Kipnis, whose team discovered in 2015 that the brain is surrounded by lymphatic vessels – vessels science textbooks insisted did not exist.

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  • Engineering in Medicine - Professor Scott Acton’s Embedding Experience

    Acton embeds in Neuroscience

    It’s a Match

    When UVA Electrical Engineer Scott Acton crossed paths with UVA neuroscientist Jonathan Kipnis at a medical research retreat, collaborative sparks flew. It took them less than an hour to outline several exciting projects that could apply Professor Acton’s biomedical imaging analysis techniques to Dr. Kipnis’ groundbreaking work on the newly discovered lymphatic system in the brain.

    The identification of the brain’s lymphatic system—which was once unknown—is one of the largest and surprising discoveries in modern medicine. And although Kipnis’ discovery is exciting enough, it’s just the beginning. Research into this newfound area promises to help solve the mysteries of devastating neuro-immune disorders like Alzheimer’s and autism that are still incurable.

    One of the main components in researching brain immune disorders is getting quantifiable data that answers basic but essential questions about what causes change in the brain. Such changes may be due to a drug, an environment, or a gene. That’s where biomedical image analysis becomes crucial, because it can measure minute changes in the brain’s complex components, such as neurons, parts of neurons, and connective tissue, and start to get answers.

    Ultimately, through a bold venture known as embedding, Acton joined Kipnis’ team to begin the journey of charting nothing less than a new frontier of the human brain.

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Selected Publications

  • Functional aspects of meningeal lymphatics in ageing and Alzheimer’s disease. Nature, vol. 560, pp. 185-191, 2018. ABS Sandro Da Mesquita, Antoine Louveau, Andrea Vaccari, ..., Scott T. Acton, Jonathan Kipnis
  • M. Korban, P. Youngs and S.T. Acton, “TAA-GCN: A temporally aware adaptive graph convolutional network for age estimation,” Pattern Recognition, 109066, 2023. ABS M. Korban, P. Youngs, Scott T. Acton
  • Farewell editiorial. IEEE Transactions on Image Processing,” vol. 27, pp. 8-9, 2018. ABS Scott T. Acton
  • Speckle reducing anisotropic diffusion. IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, vol. 11, 1260-1270, 2002. ABS Yongjian Yu, Scott T. Acton
  • A Multi-Modal Transformer network for action detection, Pattern Recognition, vol. 142, 109713, 2023. ABS M. Korban, P. Youngs, Scott T. Acton

Courses Taught

  • How the iPhone Works Spring 2018
  • Digital Image Processing Fall 2018
  • Signals and Systems Fall 2023