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Andrew Wulff thinks deeply about who he is as a person and explains how everything in his life fits together using the idea of tangents. A tangent, mathematically, is a line that intersects a circle at exactly one point. If enough tangent lines are drawn, it creates a shape in the middle: a circle.  To Wulff, each person is their own circle, their own individual self.

“The connections between people, the connections between the things I do — being an opera singer and an actor and a teacher and a dad and a coach — all of those are tangents to who I am,” Wulff said.  

Wulff is a geology professor at WKU and a high school lacrosse coach at Bowling Green High School. However, Wulff does not see himself defined by his passions — they are an extension of how he thinks and lives.

“I think an awful lot of people don’t actually know what the problems or issues are in their lives or what it is they want to solve or what it is that they want to be,” Wulff said. 

Wulff said if people explore enough tangents, or experiences and passions they have outside of themselves, they’ll eventually find out who they are. He said a person’s goal should be developing their sense of self instead of focusing on external things and experiences.


Wulff said his life is methodic, and he does everything with a reason. Wulff lives by a shorter version of the scientific method, that he calls “The Wulff version.” The three steps of his method are “don’t skip steps, don’t make assumptions and see what’s really there.” Wulff said, “it sounds horribly disciplined, but it‘s really not. This is not to say I got any of it right, but it’s internally consistent. In science, we want to have a theory internally consistent, it makes sense within yourself.”

Wulff is very similar in the classroom and on the lacrosse field: animated, lively and passionate. “I need to supply the energy and the drive and the focus,” Wulff said. “I don’t think that any of my ideas are better than anybody else’s– I really don’t. I try in my classes that people are free to say whatever they want, ask whatever questions they want. I will not ridicule them or anything, but it’s exhausting because at the end of the day, when I’ve been supplying the energy for everybody, I am just wiped out.”

When season is in full swing, Wulff coaches several teams in the area. However, in the fall, Wulff is able to be completely dedicated to the BGHS team in getting them prepared for the upcoming season. “These girls are like daughters,” Wulff said. “I’ve known some of them since they were in second grade.”

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Owensboro junior Michael Suggs came into Wulff’s office to grab keys to open a lab so he could work. Wulff spends much of his time split between his office, labs and classrooms helping students throughout the day. Wulff said, from the time he gets to the Environmental Sciences and Technology building to the time he leaves, he hardly knows what direction he will take.

Now during lacrosse’s off season, Wulff splits his time between being a professor and a coach for the Bowling Green High School girls’ lacrosse team. Three years ago, he started as a coach to help a couple of the girls start the team, and now they are the defending district champions. Wulff has been playing lacrosse since he was a child and never really stopped. “Whereas analytical geochemistry is quantitative, lacrosse is flow,” Wulff said. “Lacrosse is music. Lacrosse is dance. Lacrosse is physical. It is a wonderful thing to be physically tested.”

Wulff lives alone most of the time. His teenage son stays with him a few nights a week, but they are both busy. However, Wulff said he doesn’t mind. Wulff finds refreshment and comfort in being alone away from people. He is naturally inclined to be introverted and is exhausted after having to “supply the energy” in his classroom and on the field. “All of us are islands, whether we believe it or not,” Wulff said. “We can surround ourselves with an awful lot of noise. And it seems to me that all of those people serve as tangents, and it makes it harder for me to figure out exactly what I think and what I believe and who am I and what I feel and what are my ambitions. If I’m surrounded by a cloud of tangents, it’s really hard. So I really zealously protect the shape of ‘Andrew.’”

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Wulff said lacrosse fits easily in with the other passions in his life. “At some point, it flows. And all of a sudden, their life clicks,” Wulff said. “It is egalitarian. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter how much you own, it doesn’t matter how powerful or smart– everybody’s the same out there on the field. And that’s what I believe is important for everything. I’m gonna do research with any student that wants to do work with me, I’m going to honor any student who has a question for me. I’m going to challenge and push, but ultimately, when it comes time for a game, I’m not out on the field. It’s observation. I have to watch carefully to see that they’re doing it right. I have to be creative enough to figure out how can I explain this so it will click– lacrosse to me is where it all sort of fits together, in a much more lyrical way than analytical geochemistry.”

Wulff’s Teacher’s Assitant , Corbin junior Dylyn Loveless, came into his office early one morning to prepare for the day’s classes. Wulff said if he is in the building, people come to find him. For help or advice, people flock to him throughout the day. “At this point, as long as there are people who will react positively to the energy that I bring, I will keep bringing it,” Wulff said.

Wulff stays up late sipping tea and grading quizzes. He often stays awake as long as he possibly can in order to get everything done during the day that he can. “What’s the point of doing stuff if you’re not passionate?” Wulff said. “Why would I choose to do something halfway? Why would I eat food that does nothing for me and doesn’t have a taste that excites me? Why would I casually intersect people all day long that don’t accept anything from me or give anything to me? Passion is what makes us alive.”

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Wulff employs many of the same methods of teaching in the classroom and on the field. “You have to get it right first,” Wulff said. “And so if you’re disciplined enough to get it right the first time, then you can build and build and build and be creative and more relaxed and more fluid. So that’s what I do when I teach. I make sure the basics are understood first.”

Wulff’s house is filled with trinkets and artifacts from his life. Lacrosse awards, maps, globes, souvenirs from around the world and quirky decorations gathered from friends and travels line the bookshelves and walls.

Wulff goes and goes and goes until he crashes. He prepares himself so when he does finally turn off, he can simply fall into “bed.” However, it is not a bed– Wulff sleeps on the floor. He said he spends most of his time in the field studying and doing research, so he is accustomed to a sleeping bag on the ground. “I don’t know how to do it any other way,” Wulff said. “You throw yourself into things because you get in the same measure that you give. And if I expect great things from the people around me, I have to give them as much as I can possible give. Otherwise I’m a hypocrite. I can’t expect a great life from the world if I’m not going to give greatness back to it.”

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