Published By: Alex Gault November 28, 2020 NNY360 Watertown Daily Times and Northern NY Newspapers
CAPE VINCENT — Growing up in Cape Vincent in the 1970s, Richard A. Uhlig always had an interest in science. His mother, Ruth, had a master’s degree in chemistry, and he said his chemistry, biology and math teachers were among the most influential from his school days.
Now, Mr. Uhlig runs Quadrant Biosciences, a life science lab in Syracuse. In partnership with Upstate Medical University, Quadrant developed the Clarifi testing platform, which can be used to detect diseases and disorders, including traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder and even COVID-19. Quadrant Bioscience is contracted with Jefferson County, and a number of colleges in St. Lawrence County, to conduct wastewater testing to monitor communities for signs of COVID-19.
“Thank goodness they weren’t teachers in my school system,” Mr. Uhlig said. “My brother and I got it from all sides.”
Mr. Uhlig said growing up in Cape Vincent, surrounded by nature and with an inquisitive nature — thanks to his parents — he was inspired to explore the natural world.
“Growing up in a place like Cape Vincent, where the wilderness is in your backyard, it was an incredible place to grow up,” he said. “Even during the winter.”
Mr. Uhlig started out in the sciences with a degree from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1988. He worked full-time, 40 hours a week on top of his classes to afford tuition, food and rent. When he graduated, he was presented with two offers: one in a biology lab, making $18,000 a year, and another at Goldman Sachs, making $32,000 a year.
“Thirty-two was a lot more than 18, and I had zero, so that determined my early career path,” he said.
Mr. Uhlig quickly rose through the ranks at Goldman Sachs and was promoted to vice president of the bank’s fixed income division only four years out of school. Even though he had little experience in finance before he started at the firm, Mr. Uhlig said he thinks it was his work ethic that allowed him to outpace his peers, many of whom had master of business administration degrees from Ivy League universities.
“I think it was my early experience in carrying full course loads, as well as working, that really suited me well for a career on Wall Street,” he said. “Frankly, I think I excelled because I could just outwork everybody else.”
Mr. Uhlig toured around Wall Street for a few years, moving to Lehman Brothers in 1996, then Deutsche Bank less than a year later.
In 1999, Mr. Uhlig left Deutsche Bank with the core of his team and moved to Merrill Lynch. There, Mr. Uhlig became the chief investment officer for Merrill Lynch Bank USA, where he oversaw the growth of the bank’s assets, from $3 billion to more than $80 billion.
After a three-year stint at Cornell as the executive in residence, mentoring students interested in the financial field, in 2006, Mr. Uhlig became CEO and chairman of the board for Morgan Stanley Bank, a position he stayed in until 2008.
Mr. Uhlig gives his team full credit for his successes in the financial sector. Many of the people he hired and oversaw in the late 1990s and early 2000s have gone on to be very successful in the field today. Members of his team are now senior executives at JP Morgan, or senior traders at Fortress, one of the largest hedge funds in the world.
“I’ve always been able to attract people that are a lot smarter than me,” he said. “We’ve had some really terrific people through the years that I have been able to mentor and watch