Dr. Ainsworth received his Ph.D. in 1980 from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, where his focus was in immunology. He received his baccalaureate degree in 1976 in Biophysics from Delta State University, located in Cleveland, Mississippi. Upon receiving his PhD, he furthered his training in immunology with a National Institute of Health post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, in the Department of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Ainsworth served as a faculty member and the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University and served as the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University before moving to Chattanooga in 2010. At UTC, Dr. Ainsworth served as the Dean of the Graduate School until his appointment on June 1, 2013 as Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Dr. Ainsworth has been a principle or co-investigator on over $11 million in research and student training grants, has 75 scholarly publications, and has received several research and teaching awards.

He has participated in a number of development activities focused on leadership, administration, and the Baldridge National Quality Program.