Holds a PhD in Ecology from the University of Coimbra, in collaboration with the University of Bielefeld, Germany, and completed a post-doctoral degree at Stanford University, USA. She is a full professor in the area of Biodiversity and Ecology at the Department of Life Sciences of the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra, where she served as vice-rector between 2011 and 2015. She holds the UNESCO Chair in Biodiversity and Conservation for Sustainable Development, by the same university.
Additionally, she was part of the General Council of the University of Coimbra, was Director of the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra, having prepared and coordinated its requalification program, President of the League for Nature Protection and was founder and President of the Portuguese Society of Ecology.
Currently, she is coordinator of the Center for Functional Ecology research unit, Scientific Coordinator of FitoLab, is a member of the Scientific Council of the Department of Life Sciences of the University of Coimbra and, more recently, was appointed director of Serralves Park.
Helena is the author of more than 300 indexed international scientific publications and several works for the promotion and dissemination of science.