Little is known of Helisma's life before she was made tranquil, only that she loved animals which led to her current profession, and that the time leading up to her Rite of Tranquility was emotionally trying.
After Corypheus' assault on Haven, Minaeve, if she survived, steps down from her position as head creature researcher and passes the office on to Helisma. If Minaeve did not survive, then Derington simply replaces her. Helisma can be found in Skyhold's library, where the Inquisitor may turn in the remains of enemies for her to research. She also offers the War table operations Continuing Her Predecessor's Work and Continuing Research.