Estes is considered to be one of the founders of modern mathematical psychology. He received both his BA (1940) and his PhD
(1943) from the University of Minnesota. His early research involved animal learning and behavior. He then went on to research
Visual Information Processing and later Math and Computer Modeling of Human Memory and Classification Learning. He received
many awards including the Distinguished Research Contribution Award of APA in 1982, the Warren Medal of the Society of
Experimental Psychology in 1963, and the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Lifetime Achievement in Psychology in 1992.