By the nature of the original post, my guess is that the OP should have placed this in the Coffee Corner and not here in User Critiques. It seems like a mistake on their part, assuming this isn't a troll that is, but it doesn't seem to be. They are looking for contributors, and putting messages on popular related forums is how it's done now. It's no surprise to me to see this post. Being able to see posts like this is part of what makes the interweb interesting. There is no other way I could have found out about this project. My day job is related to research so I was interested.
I find the reactions interesting though; web forum psychology is an interesting phenomenon generally. I thought Slobodan's comment was on point. Basically, if you're not interested in the project, well, you're not interested. That's not a reason for the OP not to make the request. It's not immediately obvious to me how I would take pictures to reflect the required themes, but I regard that as my failing, not the project's. Who knows what someone might come up with, maybe even me if I gave it some more thought.
The "Why post here?" comment from Rob C. is interesting and reflects something I see a lot on forums. (I don't mean to single you out Rob, you just happened to make the comment. It could easily have been someone else.) Eventually, participants begin to feel as if the place (forum in this case) is theirs in some sense, that they have some of the rights of ownership. So when something appears in which they have no interest, for whatever reason, people often make snide or even derogatory comments. Although I find this odd, I mean, just because you may not have any interest in something, does not mean it should not exist, but what's even odder is that after years of reading various forums, I am beginning to find this normal, and I don't think it should be. This does not apply just to photography. Similar things happen in motor sport forums, computer forums (there are still people who engage in the Apple vs Microsoft battle). Why should one's participation in a forum confer some right to decide what should appear in it? It seems to be a widespread thing though. I have felt the same impulse, I'm not claiming to be immune.
To be fair, this is a comments section, and maybe the OP should have responded with some clarification after the first question or two, but I can see why they might choose not to. The "target" audience seems to have responded negatively, for no reason that's obvious to me. Had it been me, I wouldn't have come back either. Of course, maybe some people responded to the project organizers directly and that conversation is going on elsewhere, just not here.