MAJ Royal

MAJ Gabriel Royal

Instructor of American Politics


Major Gabe Royal is an Instructor of American Politics in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His research focuses on American public finance and cryptocurrency/digital asset public policy. Gabe commissioned as an Aviation officer in 2012. He served as an attack aviation platoon leader in Afghanistan (OFS '15-16) and as a company commander in Iraq (OIR '18-19). He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration and M.P.A. from The George Washington University and a B.S. in U.S. History and American Politics from West Point. Gabe is accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and their son, Caleb. 

Ongoing Research Projects

"No Trusted Third Party: Governance in Decentralized Autonomous Organizations" - This paper grounds an understanding of "decentralized autonomous organization" (DAO) governance in a multidisciplinary literature review of network theory. I find trust (or the lack thereof) plays a critical role in DAO network design choices, blockchain economics, and the push away from more centralized forms of governance Public policy prescriptions for regulating or influencing DAO behavior must account for “hybrid governance,” distinguishing between the human and digital elements of their networks. 

"China's Crypto Ban: How Decentralized Networks React to Hostile Policy Interventions" - This essay examines the impact of China's cryptocurrency ban on the digital and human elements of the Bitcoin network. It establishes several quantitative measures of decentralized cryptocurrency network conditions and compares these metrics before and after the intervention. I find little evidence of any long-term impacts to the Bitcoin network after the ban. Additionally, much of the mining activity lost in China relocated to regions with an abundance of cheap energy, but new regulatory and policy considerations factored into miners’ decision-making processes as well. Bitcoin’s quick rebound calls into question the effectiveness of individual nation-state bans on curbing cryptocurrency use and energy consumption. More broadly, this case study demonstrates how well-designed decentralized autonomous organizations adapt to hostile policy interventions. 

"Green Bitcoin? Evaluating Proof-of-Work Mining as a Tool in the Energy Transition" - This study evaluates several claims made about the potential benefits of proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining using empirical data from the recent influx of Bitcoin mining on the Texas energy grid. Results show most large Bitcoin mining data centers are in regions with high levels of renewable power generation relative to the rest of the state while nearby wholesale energy prices remain consistent with statewide trends. Additionally, evidence shows Bitcoin miners are uniquely suited to participate in ERCOT’s “controllable load resource” program – a demand response program requiring loads to cede a high degree of control to grid operators. This essay provides policymakers with insights regarding grid expansion, energy economics, and how to best incorporate flexible data centers into the renewable-led energy transition, responsibly.

Publications & Presentations

Royal, Gabriel M. “Subsidizing Interest Rates to Bridge the Racial Wealth Gap” In Policy Perspectives 29, edited by Jack Nicholson and Alex Borkholder, 1-21. Washington, DC: Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, 2022.

Royal, Gabriel M. “Only Obama Could Go To Afghanistan: How Ike and Obama Used Their Political Reputations to Their Advantage.” In The Fellows Review 2011-2012: Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, edited by Parry K. VanLandingham and Andrew Steele, 339-352. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, 2012.