NCAT doctoral student awarded Asphalt Institute Foundation Kirk Scholarship

Published: Jul 2, 2024 12:00 PM

By Allison Killingsworth

Anthony Brenes-Calderon, a doctoral student working with Auburn University’s National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT), is driving sustainable asphalt innovation forward with help from the Bill and Shireen Kirk Scholarship.  

The Kirk Scholarship, which is administered by the Asphalt Institute Foundation, is awarded annually to third or fourth-year undergraduate, graduate or doctoral students pursuing degrees in civil engineering, construction management or related programs. 

“Anthony is exceptionally well-organized, always prepared and very proactive,” said Adriana Vargas-Nordcbeck, associate research professor at NCAT and Brenes-Calderon's advisor. “He takes on every challenge with a positive attitude and has a genuine desire to produce something useful to our industry. Anthony's exceptional qualifications make him highly deserving of this scholarship.” 

Brenes-Calderon, originally from Costa Rica, developed an interest in civil engineering, specifically asphalt pavements and materials, during his undergraduate studies.  

“A memorable visit to an asphalt mixing plant during a pavement design and construction course, along with working in a materials lab for my graduation project, solidified my passion for this field,” he said. 

He earned his undergraduate degree in construction engineering from the Costa Rican Institute of Technology and his master’s degree from Auburn University, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate in civil engineering with a focus on pavement and materials. Additionally, his commitment to continuous learning led him to earn a graduate certificate in business and data analytics from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business alongside his primary coursework. 

Brenes-Calderon's research focuses on sustainable asphalt practices, specifically the triple bottom line in asphalt pavement preservation techniques addressing social, environmental and economic impacts. Focused on quantifying the benefits of pavement preservation treatments as a sustainable approach, he investigates methods to extend pavement life, reduce environmental impact and cut overall costs, contributing to safer and more durable infrastructure. 

Brenes-Calderon looks forward to seeing his research encourage widespread adoption of sustainable practices within the asphalt pavement industry.  

Upon completing his doctorate, Brenes-Calderon hopes to continue learning from mentors and sharing his knowledge to promote sustainability in the asphalt world.  

“I believe that prioritizing environmental effects and optimizing economic resources, without compromising performance and users’ safety, is the right path for developing infrastructure that will serve the public’s welfare,” he said.   

Established in 1986 through a collaboration between Auburn University and the National Asphalt Pavement Association’s Research and Education Foundation, NCAT addresses the needs of maintaining America’s pavement infrastructure through practical research and development initiatives. The center’s mission is to provide innovative, implementable research, technology development and education that advance safe, durable and sustainable asphalt pavements. 

For more information about NCAT and its research initiatives, visit 

Media Contact: Allison Killingsworth,, 334.332.5052
Anthony Brenes-Calderon

Anthony Brenes-Calderon

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