My feeling is that it's just a slightly more clever brand of spam. My personal rule, if there's one lie, it goes in my spam folder or disregard list.
This is all very vague but very telltale to me:"interesting developments in the research world".
Questions are what research...political, scientific...retail...what? Why be so vague, unless it's about being for the purpose of pure spam.
He is a 'fisher'. Basically, he goes out on the 'Net and trolls for any kind of responders at all. Then he sells those mail lists to others.
Do not click the link even to the link that theoretically drops you from their mail list. Those responses will only add you to some other spammers 'responders list' as they sell those mail lists to other spammers.